We're great at explaining big events and personal circumstances, after the fact. That's because we know how to pick and choose the right details to fit a narrative. When it comes to actually predicting what will happen to us, and how we'll feel, our crystal balls are pretty cloudy.
Think you don't believe in magic? Think again. Our brains are designed to pick up on patterns: Making connections helped our ancestors survive. You're not crazy if you're fond of jinxes, lucky charms, premonitions, wish fulfillment, or karma.
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.
Fantasies are not frivolous. They can be entertaining, distracting, frightening, even arousing, but they also allow for creativity and help us plan for the future. As long as we don't mistake fantasies for reality (as in delusional disorder and schizophrenia) or let them become too rigid (as in paraphilias), they provide a necessary escape from the here and now.
Why do we often think we know what we want, only to be disappointed with our purchases and choices? Behavioral economics shows just how irrational humans can be. Here's insight into the surprising ways in which our emotions and thought patterns guide us toward predictable economic decisions.