The past of predicting the future: A review of the multidisciplinary history of affective forecasting

AHP readers may be interested in a new piece now available online from History of the Human Sciences, “The past of predicting the future: A review of the multidisciplinary history of affective forecasting,” by Maya A. Pilin. Abstract:

Affective forecasting refers to the ability to predict future emotions, a skill that is essential to making decisions on a daily basis. Studies of the concept have determined that individuals are often inaccurate in making such affective forecasts. However, the mechanisms of these errors are not yet clear. In order to better understand why affective forecasting errors occur, this article seeks to trace the theoretical roots of this theory with a focus on its multidisciplinary history. The roots of affective forecasting lie mainly in economics, with early claims positing that utility (i.e. satisfaction) played a role in decision-making. Furthermore, the philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s descriptions of utilitarianism played a major role in our understanding of whether to define utility as a hedonic quality. The birth of behavioural economics resulted in a paradigm shift, introducing the concept of cognitive biases as influences on the accuracy of predicted utility. Daniel Gilbert and Timothy Wilson, the earliest researchers of affective forecasting errors, have proceeded with the concept of the accuracy of predicted affective utility to conduct experiments that seek to determine why our predictions of future affect are inaccurate and how such errors play a role in our decision-making.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.