People base many decisions on affective forecasts, predictions about their emotional reactions to future events. They often display an impact bias, overestimating the intensity and duration of their emotional reactions to such events. One cause of the impact bias is focalism, the tendency to underestimate the extent to which other events will influence our thoughts and feelings. Another is people’s failure to anticipate how quickly they will make sense of things that happen to them in a way that speeds emotional recovery. This is especially true when predicting reactions to negative events: People fail to anticipate how quickly they will cope psychologically with such events in ways that speed their recovery from them. Several implications are discussed, such as the tendency for people to attribute their unexpected resilience to external agents.
Wilson, T. D., & Gilbert, D. T. (2005). Affective forecasting: Knowing what to want. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14(3), 131-134.