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Attenuating focalism in affective forecasts of the commuting experience: Implications for economic decisions and policy making

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  • Comerford, David A.

Abstract

Focalism is a cognitive bias that overweights the contribution of certain attributes to the consumption experience. This paper proposes that focalism afflicts choice of transport mode for commuting. A field study and two experiments provide evidence that commuting by bus is estimated to be less enjoyable than it is experienced to be and that driving to work is estimated to be more enjoyable than it is experienced to be. To the extent that commuting behavior is informed by subjective expected utility, commuters will inflict unanticipated costs on themselves and on society. Transport mode choice has external and dynamic consequences. Focalism in this domain implies welfare distortions that are worthy of policymakers’ attention. This paper develops a novel debiasing technique, Affective Averaging, that reveals and attenuates focalism in affective forecasts of commuting.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Psychology.

Volume (Year): 32 (2011)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
Pages: 691-699

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Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:32:y:2011:i:5:p:691-699

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/joep

Related research

Keywords: Affective forecasting; Focussing bias; Debiasing;

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References

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  1. Parry, Ian W.H. & Walls, Margaret & Harrington, Winston, 2007. "Automobile Externalities and Policies," Discussion Papers dp-06-26, Resources For the Future.
  2. Andreas Knabe & Steffen Rätzel & Ronnie Schöb & Joachim Weimann, 2010. "Dissatisfied with Life but Having a Good Day: Time-use and Well-being of the Unemployed," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(547), pages 867-889, 09.
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  8. Steg, Linda, 2005. "Car use: lust and must. Instrumental, symbolic and affective motives for car use," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 39(2-3), pages 147-162.
  9. Daniel Kahneman & Robert Sugden, 2005. "Experienced Utility as a Standard of Policy Evaluation," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 32(1), pages 161-181, 09.
  10. Nick Sevdalis & Nigel Harvey, 2009. "Reducing the impact bias in judgments of post-decisional affect: Distraction or task interference?," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 4(4), pages 287-296, June.
  11. Michael Hoerger & Stuart W. Quirk & Richard E. Lucas & Thomas H. Carr, 2010. "Cognitive determinants of affective forecasting errors," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 5(5), pages 365-373, August.
  12. Maria Pollai & Erik Hoelzl & Flavia Possas, 2010. "Consumption-related emotions over time: Fit between prediction and experience," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 21(4), pages 397-411, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Comerford, David A. & Ubel, Peter A., 2013. "Effort Aversion: Job choice and compensation decisions overweight effort," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 152-162.
  2. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2004. "Economic Consequences of Mispredicting Utility," CREMA Working Paper Series 2005-04, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  3. MacPherson, Ronnie & Lange, Ian, 2013. "Determinants of green electricity tariff uptake in the UK," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 920-933.

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