What is it about?

Research has shown that people often make mistakes when predicting how they will feel about decisions and life events. In this study, we looked at how people predicted they would feel while doing work or school tasks. While some people were inaccurate in their predictions, overall there was no consistent pattern of feeling better or worse than expected. However, when people did feel better than predicted, they tended to rate their performance as better too.

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Why is it important?

Our findings suggest that errors in emotional forecasting that show up in other contexts do not occur with everyday tasks. Also, the results suggest that expecting too strong of positive emotion could actually be harmful for future performance.


Our days are made up of various tasks and activities. Our decisions about what tasks to undertake partly are driven by how we expect to feel while engaging in those tasks. We wanted to understand whether there is a tendency to predict tasks being worse (or perhaps better) than they end up being - and how those predictions relate to task performance. We believe there is much more to be done in this area!

Seth Kaplan

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This page is a summary of: “Worse than I anticipated” or “This isn’t so bad”?: The impact of affective forecasting accuracy on self-reported task performance, PLoS ONE, July 2020, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0235973.
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