Disability and sunshine: can hedonic predictions be improved by drawing attention to focusing illusions or emotional adaptation?

J Exp Psychol Appl. 2005 Jun;11(2):111-23. doi: 10.1037/1076-898X.11.2.111.


People frequently mispredict the long-term emotional impact of circumstances. The authors examine 2 causes of such mispredictions-a focusing illusion and underappreciation of adaptation. In Experiment 1, the authors found, in 852 adults, that quality of life estimates (for living with disability) were not increased by reducing focusing illusions. In Experiment 2, the authors found, in 698 adults, that people's disability estimates were increased by asking them to reflect on adaptation. In Experiment 3, the authors found, across 312 Midwestern college students, that both approaches reduced the participants' predictions of the life satisfaction of their peers living in southern California. In the case of living in a better climate, the results suggest that attention to either cause influences people's predictions, whereas in the case of chronic disability, the results suggest that it is easier to get people to appreciate adaptation than it is to reduce focusing illusions.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Attention*
  • Climate*
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illusions*
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Surveys and Questionnaires