Decisions are often based on predictions of the hedonic consequences of future events. We suggest that people make such predictions by imagining the event without temporal context (atemporal representation), assuming that their reaction to the event would be similar to their reaction to the imagined event (proxy reactions), and then considering how this reaction might change were the event displaced in time (temporal correction). In a laboratory study, control participants based their predictions of future food enjoyment on the temporal location of its consumption, whereas cognitively loaded participants based their predictions on their current hunger. In a field study, shoppers based their food purchases on the temporal location of its consumption, whereas shoppers for whom this information was not salient based their purchases on their current hunger. These findings suggest that predictions of future hedonic reactions may initially be based on the hedonic reactions one experiences as one imagines the event atemporally, and that this initial prediction is then corrected with information about the time at which the event will actually occur.
Gilbert, D. T., Gill, M. J., & Wilson, T. D. (2002). The future is now: Temporal correction in affective forecasting. Organizational behavior and human decision processes, 88(1), 430-444.