Temporal Adjustments in the Evaluation of Events: The "Rosy View"

J Exp Soc Psychol. 1997 Jul;33(4):421-48. doi: 10.1006/jesp.1997.1333.


In a series of three investigations we examined people's anticipation of, actual experiences in, and subsequent recollection of meaningful life events: a trip to Europe, a Thanksgiving vacation, and a 3-week bicycle trip in California. The results of all three studies supported the hypothesis that people's expectations of personal events are more positive than their actual experience during the event itself, and their subsequent recollection of that event is more positive than the actual experience. The "rosy view" phenomenon is associated with an increase in the number of negative thoughts during the event which seem to be caused by distractions, disappointment, and a less positive view of the self. However, these effects are short-lived; within days after the event, people have much more positive evaluations of the event. We discuss alternative interpretations for our findings and implications for group and organizational settings.