Predicting with your head, not your heart: Forecasting errors and the impact of anticipated versus experienced elements of regret on well-being

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit


Publication Date



Research suggests that when predicting our future emotions, affective forecasting errors are frequent (Wilson and Gilbert in Adv Exp Soc Psychol 35:345–411, 2003), influence motivation (Wilson and Gilbert in Curr Dir Psychol Sci 14:131–134, 2005), and drive decisions and behaviors (Dunn and Laham Affective forecasting: a user’s guide to emotional time travel, Psychology Press, London, 2006). Regret can fall prey to these same errors (Gilbert et al., in Psychol Sci 15:346–350, 2004). Recent research characterizes two distinct components of regret: an affective element and cognitive element associated with maladaptive and functional outcomes, respectively (Buchanan et al., in Judgment and Decision Making 11:275–286, 2006). We explored forecasting of these elements across two studies. In Study 1, we investigated how accurately individuals forecast each component of regret, and how this relates to well-being. Participants forecasted experiencing a greater amount of regret (including affective and cognitive components) than they actually experienced. Additionally, forecasted (compared to experienced) components of regret uniquely predicted well-being outcomes, suggesting that predicting more affective regret coincides with lower well-being. In Study 2, forecasting errors in overall regret were eliminated by asking participants to focus on cognitive elements of regret prior to forecasting.


This article was originally published in Motivation and Emotion. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

Due to copyright restrictions, this article is not available for free download from ScholarWorks @ CWU.


Motivation and Emotion


© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019