In five studies, university students predicted their affective reactions to a wide variety of positive and negative future events. In Studies 1 to 3, participants also reported the affective reactions they experienced when the target event occurred. As hypothesized, they tended to anticipate more intense reactions than they actually experienced. In Studies 3 to 5, a cognitive determinant of this “intensity bias” was examined. It was hypothesized that people anticipate stronger affective reactions when they focus narrowly on an upcoming event in a manner that neglects past experience and less intense reactions when they consider a set of relevant previous experiences. Evidence from thought-listing measures as well as an experimental manipulation of temporal focus supported this hypothesis.
Buehler, R., & McFarland, C. (2001). Intensity bias in affective forecasting: The role of temporal focus. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(11), 1480-1493.