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Durability bias

 

Explanations > Theories > Durability bias

Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

When we predict how long we will feel about some event, we tend to over-estimate the duration of the emotional impact.

Whatever our emotions, although we have ups and downs, we tend to return to a neutral 'home' position within a relatively short time.

This may be caused by focalism, where people focus too much on the event in question and not enough on other future events.

Durability bias is a form of impact bias.

Research

Wilson et al found that football fans were less likely to over-predict how long the outcome of a football game would influence their happiness if they first thought about how much time they would spend on other future activities

Example

I think about how I would feel if my girlfriend left me. I suspect I would feel very upset and believe I would feel this way for a long time to come. The fact that I might meet someone else before long and change how I feel does not come into my thinking.

So What?

Using it

Getting people to think about other events that will happen in the future and how they will react to these will reduce their misperception about how long they will feel about current events and the emotional impact of this.

You can also use this by getting people to think only about the impact of a desirable/undesirable event and how long the feelings about this will last.

Defending

When thinking about how long you will feel about something, include the possibilities of other events changing how you feel now.

See also

Impact bias, Focalism, Availability Heuristic, Emotions

References

Wilson, Wheatley, Meyers, Gilbert and Axsom (2000)

 

 

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