Planning, personality, and prediction: The role of future focus in optimistic time predictions

Planning, personality, and prediction: The role of future focus in optimistic time predictions The present studies examined cognitive processes underlying the tendency to underestimate project completion times. Two experiments tested the hypothesis that people generate overly optimistic predictions, in part, because they focus narrowly on their future plans for the target task and thus neglect other useful sources of information. Consistent with the hypothesis, instructing participants to adopt a “future focus”—in which they generated concrete, specific plans for the task at hand—led them to make more optimistic predictions about when they would complete their intended Christmas shopping (Study 1) and major school assignments (Study 2). The future focus manipulation did not have a corresponding effect on actual completion times, and thus increased the degree of optimistic bias in prediction. The studies also demonstrated that the optimistic prediction bias generalized across different task domains, relevant individual differences (i.e., trait optimism and procrastination), and other contextual variations. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes Elsevier

Planning, personality, and prediction: The role of future focus in optimistic time predictions

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Publisher
Elsevier
Copyright
Copyright © 2003 Elsevier Inc.
ISSN
0749-5978
DOI
10.1016/S0749-5978(03)00089-X
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The present studies examined cognitive processes underlying the tendency to underestimate project completion times. Two experiments tested the hypothesis that people generate overly optimistic predictions, in part, because they focus narrowly on their future plans for the target task and thus neglect other useful sources of information. Consistent with the hypothesis, instructing participants to adopt a “future focus”—in which they generated concrete, specific plans for the task at hand—led them to make more optimistic predictions about when they would complete their intended Christmas shopping (Study 1) and major school assignments (Study 2). The future focus manipulation did not have a corresponding effect on actual completion times, and thus increased the degree of optimistic bias in prediction. The studies also demonstrated that the optimistic prediction bias generalized across different task domains, relevant individual differences (i.e., trait optimism and procrastination), and other contextual variations.

Journal

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision ProcessesElsevier

Published: Sep 1, 2003

References

  • Frequency, probability, and prediction: Easy solutions to cognitive illusions?
    Griffin, D; Buehler, R
  • Difference score correlations in relationship research: A conceptual primer
    Griffin, D; Murray, S; Gonzalez, R
  • Overcoming the planning fallacy through willpower: Effects of implementation intentions on actual and predicted task-completion times
    Koole, S; Spijker, M
  • An assessment of appraisal, anxiety, coping, and procrastination during an examination period
    Lay, C.H; Edwards, J.M; Parker, J.D.A; Endler, N.S

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