Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Predicting future happiness/unhappiness...

"The problem lies in how we imagine our future hedonic states. We are the only animals that can peer deeply into our futures—the only animal that can travel mentally through time, preview a variety of futures, and choose the one that will bring us the greatest pleasure and/or the least pain."

More snippets:
"One of the reasons why we think bad things will make us feel bad for a long time is because we don't realize that we have this defensive system—something like a psychological immune system, if you will. If I were to ask you to predict how healthy you would be if you encountered a cold germ and you didn't know that you had a physical immune system, you'd expect to get very sick and perhaps even die.

Similarly, when people predict how they're going to feel in the face of adversity, not knowing they have a psychological immune system leads them to expect more intense and enduring dissatisfaction than they will actually experience.

"When we're trying to predict how happy we will be in a future that contains Event X, we tend to focus on Event X and forget about all the other events that also populate that future—events that tend to dilute the hedonic impact of Event X. In a sense, we are slaves to the focus of our own attention."

Interesting article.

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