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'Oops...I did it again': Repeated focusing effects in reports of happiness

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  • Dolan, Paul
  • Metcalfe, Robert

Abstract

We use an experiment (relating to a major European soccer match) to replicate previous studies that show forecasts of the impact of an event on happiness are often greatly exaggerated. In addition, by randomising respondents into one of two groups (assessing happiness before and after the event or only after), we are also able to show that previously focusing on an event can affect subsequent happiness responses. From a final sample of 309 soccer fans contacted via a social networking site, the happiness ratings of the fans of the losing team who answered before and after the soccer match is a whole point lower (on a 0-10 scale) than similar fans who rated their happiness only after the event. The potential spillover of a focusing effect from one survey to the next has important implications for how we interpret happiness responses from longitudinal surveys.

Suggested Citation

  • Dolan, Paul & Metcalfe, Robert, 2010. "'Oops...I did it again': Repeated focusing effects in reports of happiness," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 732-737, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:31:y:2010:i:4:p:732-737
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Thunström, Linda & Nordström, Jonas & Shogren, Jason F., 2015. "Certainty and overconfidence in future preferences for food," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 101-113.
    2. Witt, Ulrich & Binder, Martin, 2013. "Disentangling motivational and experiential aspects of “utility” – A neuroeconomics perspective," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 27-40.
    3. Edsel Beja, 2015. "The Focusing Illusion and Happiness: Evidence Using College Basketball Championship," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 121(3), pages 873-885, April.
    4. Dolan, Paul & Layard, Richard & Metcalfe, Robert, 2011. "Measuring subjective well-being for public policy," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 35420, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Paul Dolan & Richard Layard & Robert Metcalfe, 2011. "Measuring Subjective Wellbeing for Public Policy: Recommendations on Measures," CEP Special Papers 23, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. Beja, Edsel Jr., 2013. "Focusing on the Focusing Illusion..," MPRA Paper 44366, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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