People evidence significant inaccuracies when predicting their response to many emotional life events. One unanswered question is whether such affective forecasting errors are due to participants' poor estimation of their initial emotional reactions (an initial intensity bias), poor estimation of the rate at which these emotional reactions diminish over time (a decay bias), or both. The present research used intensive longitudinal procedures to explore this question in the wake of an upsetting life event: the dissolution of a romantic relationship. Results revealed that the affective forecasting error is entirely accounted for by an initial intensity bias, with no contribution by a decay bias. In addition, several moderators of the affective forecasting error emerged: participants who were more in love with their partners, who thought it was unlikely they would soon enter a new relationship, and who played less of a role in initiating the breakup made especially inaccurate forecasts.
- Affective forecasting
- Romantic relationships