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Emotion. 2010 Jun;10(3):447-53. doi: 10.1037/a0018701.

Affective forecasting and individual differences: accuracy for relational events and anxious attachment.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 117940-2500, USA.


We examined whether accuracy of affective forecasting for significant life events was moderated by a theoretically relevant individual difference (anxious attachment), with different expected relations to predicted and actual happiness. In 3 studies (2 cross-sectional, 1 longitudinal), participants predicted what their happiness would be after entering or ending a romantic relationship. Consistent with previous research, people were generally inaccurate forecasters. However, inaccuracy for entering a relationship was significantly moderated by anxious attachment. Predictions were largely unrelated to anxious attachment, but actual happiness was negatively related to attachment anxiety. Moderation for breaking up showed a similar but less consistent pattern. These results suggest a failure to account for one's degree of anxious attachment when making affective forecasts and show how affective forecasting accuracy in important life domains may be moderated by a focally relevant individual difference, with systematically different associations between predicted and actual happiness.

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