What Is Affective Forecasting?

Affective forecasting is predicting how you will feel in the future. As it turns out, we're terrible at it. We're not good judges of what will make us happy, and we have trouble seeing through the filter of the now. Our feelings in the present blind us to how we'll make decisions in the future, when we might be feeling very differently.

Recent posts on Affective Forecasting

Being Right vs. Feeling Right

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on March 02, 2017 in Ambigamy
Feelings feel more factual than fact, more real than reality, truer than truth. The truth can be staring us in the face, and we’re still more likely to believe our guts.


You can end up feeling battered by the tide of history until you know how your brain creates its neurochemical response to public events.

Expectations and Cancer: Does How We Think Matter?

By Anne Moyer Ph.D. on January 16, 2017 in Beyond Treatment
Expectations have the potential to influence the experience of cancer, for worse and for better.

Choosing Between Your Gut and Your Mind: Why Limit Yourself?

By Hank Davis, Ph.D., Yana Hoffman, C.C.D.C on January 15, 2017 in Try to See It My Way
When the stakes are high and the information is spotty, do you depend on your "gut" or your logical mind? Both can work, but you've got to size up the circumstances you're facing.
Carl Pickhardt Ph.D.

Social Challenges of Middle School

So many adolescent changes unfold in middle school, most young people find it an emotionally challenging experience.

Set Your Theme of the Year Before You Set Your Goals

By Marcia Reynolds Psy.D. on January 01, 2017 in Wander Woman
Before setting, resetting, or trashing your goals, set a Focus or Theme for the year to ensure what you choose to do fulfills you.

The Laws of Unintended Consequences

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on December 21, 2016 in Ambigamy
Pay attention to unintended consequences and how they happen. If you do, you'll minimize the bad ones and you'll be more compassionate with yourself about those you can't escape.

A Decision-Making Hack for Life's Forks in the Road

By Shauna H Springer Ph.D. on December 08, 2016 in Free-Range Psychology
As we wrap up 2016 and head into a new year, is there a fork in your own road that you need to see with greater clarity and focus? Here's a decision-making "hack" that may help.

The Art of High-Stakes Psychological Diagnosis Pt. 2

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on November 30, 2016 in Ambigamy
When diagnosing or name-calling, call out the behavior and speculate carefully about the possible motivations for it or you'll get mired in debate over the motivations.

The Art of High-Stakes Psychological Diagnosis Pt 1

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on November 29, 2016 in Ambigamy
Don't let your gut impulses decide how you diagnose people's problems. It will only make the problems worse. Be careful, patient, expansive and strategic instead.

Post Election: Republicans, Democrats and Happiness

By Mark Holder, Ph.D. on November 09, 2016 in The Happiness Doctor
Following the election, Republicans might seem happier than Democrats. Research shows that Republicans are usually happier—even when they lose.

Why It Can Be So Hard to Stay Happy

By Frank T. McAndrew Ph.D. on August 21, 2016 in Out of the Ooze
Can being too content actually be bad for you?

Primary Affects

What science is really intrigued with is how feelings work. For ages, Tomkins and others grappled with the following question: How are there only a few discrete responses?

Mental Illness and Violence

The psychotic killer may make a great Halloween costume, but in real life, they're surprisingly rare.

Ask and You Shall Receive

By David Ludden Ph.D. on July 06, 2016 in Talking Apes
Approaching a stranger to ask a favor can be difficult, but refusing a request can be just as hard.

A Little Paranoia Might be Just What You Need

By Donna Barstow on June 24, 2016 in Ink Blots Cartoons
A classic article explored the value of "prudent paranoia".

Welcome to Misery!

For much of the past 20 years, psychology has been obsessed with the quest for happiness. Maybe it's time we looked in the other direction.

Having a Reaction to Reactions

Patients often say they have "reactions" to medications that don't translate into what doctors mean by "allergy."

Why Is Mental Health So Difficult to Define?

By Christopher Lane Ph.D. on June 05, 2016 in Side Effects
A stress on anticipated harmony and positivity is part of the problem.

Conspiracy Theories and You

Conspiracy theories have much to say about who we are and where we're going.

OK No Cupid?

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on May 27, 2016 in Ambigamy
Do you dread the possibility that you'll end up single even as, with age, the odds increase that you will? If so, something has to change. Perhaps your attitude about singleness.
Blend Images/Shutterstock

Why You Should Talk to Strangers

By Jaime L. Kurtz Ph.D. on April 21, 2016 in Happy Trails
Be brave! Branching out and taking social risks promotes happiness.

Have You Read Your Body Lately?

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on March 26, 2016 in A Swim in Denial
It's spring. When the seasons hum, we resonate. It’s how we’re built. But much of the information is deeply embedded in culture and beyond everyday awareness. Let's tune in.

Can Your Heart Predict the Future?

Psychophysiologists claim cardiac clairvoyance is real.

Science Explains How Facebook Makes You Sad

The most popular social network may be taking a serious toll on your emotional well-being.

One New Twist to Project Planning

By Beth Fisher-Yoshida Ph.D., CCS on March 02, 2016 in We Are What We Make
Past success can be a blessing in disguise because it can lead to fixed mental sets limiting our achievements. Do one thing differently for better project planning results!

The Psychology Behind the Doctors Strike in the UK

Strikes can also serve a psychological function, because if the union were never to strike, the employer would always offer the lowest possible remuneration...

Should Robots Be Our Grandma's New Friend?

By Teresa Ghilarducci Ph.D. on December 24, 2015 in When I’m 64
What will loneliness in old age look like? VanGogh "At Eternity's Gate"

How Insecurity Happens and How to Overcome It

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on December 02, 2015 in Ambigamy
"Flow" happens when we're "in the groove." Anxiety arises when we "lose our groove." Here we explore how grooves are made.