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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Comerford, David A., 2011. "Attenuating focalism in affective forecasts of the commuting experience: Implications for economic decisions and policy making," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 691-699.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:32:y:2011:i:5:p:691-699
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2011.06.005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lange, Ian & Moro, Mirko & Traynor, Laura, 2014. "Green hypocrisy?: Environmental attitudes and residential space heating expenditure," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 76-83.
    2. MacPherson, Ronnie & Lange, Ian, 2013. "Determinants of green electricity tariff uptake in the UK," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 920-933.
    3. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2014. "Economic Consequences of Mispredicting Utility," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 937-956, August.
    4. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Affective forecasting; Focussing bias; Debiasing;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • R48 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government Pricing and Policy

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