- Registration time
- Last login
- Online time
- 185 Hour
- Reading permission
3.The impact bias|
What is it?
People often overestimate their emotional reaction to future events. Studies have found that two months after a relationship finished people were generally not as unhappy as they expect. It worked the other way around too: sports fans were generally not as happy as they expected when their team won. Finally, academics both overestimated how happy they would be when given tenure, and also overestimated their unhappiness at being denied tenure.
How to combat the impact bias
First, consciously widen your future focus; remember that other events are bound to intervene. Second, remember that rationalisation tends to reduce the emotional impact of both positive and negative events. The future doesn't normally have such an extreme effect on our emotions (whether good or bad) as we imagine.
» Read more about the impact bias.
4.The memory bias
What is it?
When making decisions about the future, we naturally use events from the past as litmus tests. Unfortunately the type of memories we retrieve to make decisions about our future happiness are often biased to unusual examples that are either very positive or very negative.
A study on subway travellers showed that people freely recalled their previous worst experience of missing the train. As a result they then predicted that if they were to miss the train later that day they would feel worse than did other people who had recalled less disastrous times they had missed the train.
How to combat the memory bias
Recalling more than one past instance of an event you want to make a decision about helps average out the emotion. Also, simply be aware that you are likely to recall the best or worst past example of an event.
» Read more about the memory bias.
What are they?
Over time we build up many rules of thumb about the situations that make us happy (or unhappy). Unfortunately we often over-generalise these beliefs to situations where they don't apply.
Research has uncovered four common belief biases:
*The contrast effect is the often incorrect belief that a good experience will be more enjoyable when it follows a bad experience (and that a bad experience will be worse when it follows good). Research on jelly bean tasting showed this can be a mirage.
*More choice is often not better: Research with gourmet jams has found people can be happier, and even better motivated, when they have fewer options to choose from.
*Adaptation: People often expect that repeated exposure to an experience will lessen the pleasure it gives. Research on ice cream, yoghurt and music showed that most people adapted to the taste, either coming to like it more, or at the very least dislike it less.
*Certainty: People expect to feel happier when they have reduced the uncertainty in a situation. Often, though, mystery can increase pleasure.
How to combat belief biases
Research suggests the amount that we are swayed by each of these biases depends on how much we believe in them. So, just reading, remembering and believing (!) this post should allow you to combat the belief biases.
» Read more about belief biases.