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Judgm Decis Mak. 2012 Jan 1;7(1):86-96.

Coping strategies and immune neglect in affective forecasting: Direct evidence and key moderators.

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  • 1Rochester Healthcare Decision-Making Group.


Affective forecasting skills have important implications for decision making. However, recent research suggests that immune neglect - the tendency to overlook coping strategies that reduce future distress - may lead to affective forecasting problems. Prior evidence for immune neglect has been indirect. More direct evidence and a deeper understanding of immune neglect are vital to informing the design of future decision-support interventions. In the current study, young adults (N = 325) supplied predicted, actual, and recollected reactions to an emotionally-evocative interpersonal event, Valentine's Day. Based on participants' qualitative descriptions of the holiday, a team of raters reliably coded the effectiveness of their coping strategies. Supporting the immune neglect hypothesis, participants overlooked the powerful role of coping strategies when predicting their emotional reactions. Immune neglect was present not only for those experiencing the holiday negatively (non-daters) but also for those experiencing it positively (daters), suggesting that the bias may be more robust than originally theorized. Immune neglect was greater for immediate emotional reactions than more enduring reactions. Further, immune neglect was conspicuously absent from recollected emotional reactions. Implications for decision-support interventions are discussed.

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