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Coping strategies and immune neglect in affective forecasting: Direct evidence and key moderators


  • Michael Hoerger


Affective forecasting skills have important implications for decision making. However, recent research suggests that immune neglect---the tendency to overlook coping strategies that reduce future distress---may lead to affective forecasting problems. Prior evidence for immune neglect has been indirect. More direct evidence and a deeper understanding of immune neglect are vital to informing the design of future decision-support interventions. In the current study, young adults (N = 325) supplied predicted, actual, and recollected reactions to an emotionally-evocative interpersonal event, Valentine's Day. Based on participants' qualitative descriptions of the holiday, a team of raters reliably coded the effectiveness of their coping strategies. Supporting the immune neglect hypothesis, participants overlooked the powerful role of coping strategies when predicting their emotional reactions. Immune neglect was present not only for those experiencing the holiday negatively (non-daters) but also for those experiencing it positively (daters), suggesting that the bias may be more robust than originally theorized. Immune neglect was greater for immediate emotional reactions than more enduring reactions. Further, immune neglect was conspicuously absent from recollected emotional reactions. Implications for decision-support interventions are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Hoerger, 2012. "Coping strategies and immune neglect in affective forecasting: Direct evidence and key moderators," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 7(1), pages 86-96, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:7:y:2012:i:1:p:86-96

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Loewenstein, George & Ubel, Peter A., 2008. "Hedonic adaptation and the role of decision and experience utility in public policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1795-1810, August.
    2. Kartik B. Athreya, 2004. "Shame as it ever was : stigma and personal bankruptcy," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Spr, pages 1-19.
    3. Gisela Boehm & Wibecke Brun, 2008. "Introduction to the special issue: Intuition and affect in risk perception and decision making," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 3, pages 1-4, January.
    4. Dillard, Amanda J. & Fagerlin, Angela & Cin, Sonya Dal & Zikmund-Fisher, Brian J. & Ubel, Peter A., 2010. "Narratives that address affective forecasting errors reduce perceived barriers to colorectal cancer screening," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 45-52, July.
    5. Gisela Böhm & Hans-Rüdiger Pfister, 2008. "Anticipated and experienced emotions in environmental risk perception," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 3, pages 73-86, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Noval, Laura J., 2016. "On the misguided pursuit of happiness and ethical decision making: The roles of focalism and the impact bias in unethical and selfish behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 1-16.


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