B.E. For Dogs: Affective Forecasting

B.E. for Dogs is a bi-weekly comic series that will examine concepts in behavioral economics from the perspective of our canine companions. Look out for new comics every other week!

The series is created by Matt Trower, Catherine Berman, and Jamie Foehl.

Affective Forecasting | Behavioral economics

Affective Forecasting: We make predictions about how events will make us feel all the time – and many of these predictions guide our life decisions. (This dog, for example, imagines how a new puppy will make him feel — and that a puppy is the wrong decision.) Yet, many of our initial predictions are inaccurate, especially when it comes to predicting the intensity and duration of our feelings.

In one study, professors who were up for tenure were asked how they would feel if they didn’t get tenure. Everyone said they would be very unhappy. A few months after the tenure decisions, the faculty who didn’t get tenure were just as happy as those who did. One explanation for affective forecasting errors is that people focus too much on what will change and how much that change will matter in everyday life.


Wilson, T.D., Gilbert, D.T. (2003). Affective forecasting. In Zanna, M.P. (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 345–411. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Gilbert, D. T., Pinel, E. C., Wilson, T. D., Blumberg, S. J., & Wheatley, T. P. (1998). Immune neglect: A source of durability bias in affective forecasting. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology75(3), 617-638.