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Affective Forecasting Errors in the 2008 Election: Underpredicting Happiness



Individuals tend to be very bad at predicting their emotional responses to future events, often overestimating both the intensity and duration of their responses, particularly to negative events. The authors studied affective forecasting errors in the 2008 election in a large sample of undergraduates at Dartmouth College. Replicating past research, McCain supporters overpredicted their negative affect in response to the (future) election of Barack Obama. Obama supporters, however, underpredicted their happiness in response to his victory. Results are discussed with reference to mechanisms proposed to underlie the impact bias, as well as the unique circumstances surrounding this historic election season.