Affective prediction: a very useful mental skill

We humans have the ability to feel a tremendous amount of emotions that overwhelm and condition us when making any sort of decision. When these emotions occur in the past, they can be recorded so intensely that we can remember them no matter how much time passes. But what about future emotions?

Some studies have attempted to study our ability to determine future emotions, by granting it the concept of affective prediction. In this article, we’ll talk about this skill, along with specific factors and possible applications.

    What is affective prediction?

    Affective prediction or affective prognosis is a term used in psychology to define people’s ability to make predictions about their future ailment or emotional state and their consequences.

    The term was coined by psychologists Timothy Wilson and Daniel Gilbert as a result of their research into this ability. While early research focused only on measuring emotional predictions, later studies began to examine the accuracy and prediction of those predictions.

    Limited mental capacity

    The results revealed that people we are extremely clumsy in trying to predict our emotional states. Due to the large number of cognitive biases that we have, such as focus, empathy gap, and impact bias, we are virtually unable to determine exactly how, when, and how intensely we will experience our emotions at home. to come up.

    The reason is that feelings in the present interfere and blind us when making decisions in the future, at which point we can feel very different from what we think we are going.

    We find an example when it comes to asking people how they think they would feel if the lottery hit them. People are more likely to overestimate future positive feelings, ignoring many factors that can influence their emotional state besides being hit by the lottery.

    However, studies have found that people are indeed able to predict the affective valence of their future emotions. In other words, we know whether a future action or event will be positive or not. too much we are skilled enough to identify the emotions we will have; for example, knowing that we will feel happy after a compliment.

    However, these predictions are not always correct. In other words, people are not right about their future emotions 100% of the time. Likewise, we are much less precise when trying to predict the intensity and duration of our future emotions.

      What aspects of emotion can we predict?

      Affective prediction can be divided into four components or factors for which people have a more or less predictive capacity. These factors are:

      • Affective valence.
      • The specific emotion felt.
      • The intensity of emotions.
      • The duration of the emotions.

      1. Emotional valence

      In psychology, we speak of affective valence the emotional value we place on a person, object or situation. In the specific case of affective prediction, it manifests itself in the ability to know whether a person or event will bring us positive or negative emotions. Whatever they are.

      Studies show that people are very good at predicting this factor, which means that we know very well what things generate positive emotions and value them as such, and what other things cause negative emotions and produce feelings of self-esteem. aversion.

      2. Specific emotions

      Predicting the valence is not enough. On top of that, people feel the need to know exactly what specific emotions we have with certain situations or with certain people.

      In general, we have the ability to predict our specific emotions most of the time. We are aware of the circumstances that make us happy and what others generate in us are feelings of anguish, fear or anxiety.

      However, this is not always easy as we can often experience a mixture of emotions that they don’t always seem compatible. For example, if we find a good job offer, but it is overseas, we may feel happy and excited to start a new life and have a good job, but on the other hand we may feel a little sadness at work. leave our family and friends.

      3. Intensity and duration of emotions

      Finally, the third factor studied in Wilson and Gilbert’s research was the ability of people to predict the intensity of emotions, as well as their duration.

      The results determined that we can quite accurately predict both the affective valence and the specific emotions that we will experience in the future. However, in terms of our ability to predict the intensity and duration of emotions, the data shows that we are not as proficient.

      Research has shown that people we tend to overestimate the duration of our future emotional reactions, A phenomenon known as sustainability bias. Likewise, when we try to predict the intensity of our emotions, we also fall into the error of overestimating that intensity. In this case, the error is due to impact bias.

      What applications can it have?

      Although affective prognosis has been studied primarily in the field of psychology, there are many other fields such as economics, legal, medical care field or the pursuit of happiness

      An example of the application of affective prediction studies, in a field other than psychology, we find in the interest shown by legal theorists in the tendency that we show to underestimate our ability to adapt to the events that cause a change in our life like this this leads them to question the assumptions on which compensation for damage is based.

      Likewise, this ability is also currently being investigated by theorists or health analysts, as most of the critical health decisions made depend on the patient’s perception of their future quality of life.

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