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Affect in Judgement and Decision-Making: The Role of Context

Sevdalis, Nick; (2004) Affect in Judgement and Decision-Making: The Role of Context. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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There is empirical evidence that when people make decisions they are not only interested in the material outcomes of the decisions but they also try to maximise their post-decisional pleasure and minimise their post-decisional pain. This strategy implies that people anticipate their post-decisional emotions. However, research has also shown that people overestimate their emotional reactions to future events - i.e. they predict them to be more intense than they actually are. This "impact bias" has been attributed to the fact that people tend to focus too much on the future events in question, thereby neglecting other future occurrences that will distract their attention and, as a consequence of this distraction, attenuate their emotional reactions. I tested the hypothesis that the influence of emotional anticipations on decisions is due to the "impact bias". In other words, people overestimate how happy or unhappy they will become as a result of the outcomes of a decision. As a result of these mispredictions, when people face decisions with uncertain prospects they opt for alternatives that minimise the potential for future negative emotional reactions. In three scenario-based investment studies, I found evidence that people adopt a "regret-minimising" investment strategy only when they focus narrowly on the decision in question, but not when they see the decision in a broader context. In two negotiation studies and one study of risky choice, I found that people overpredicted their post-decisional emotional reactions to the outcomes of both tasks. In a more naturalistic study, I found that students overpredicted what their emotional reactions would be when they received feedback on academic assignments. Finally, in three studies on decision recall, I found that people who were narrowly focused on bad decisions reported feeling worse than people who put the decisions in the broader context of their lives.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Affect in Judgement and Decision-Making: The Role of Context
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by ProQuest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10077273
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