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Psychol Sci. 2017 Sep;28(9):1290-1301. doi: 10.1177/0956797617706706. Epub 2017 Aug 3.

The Belief in a Favorable Future.

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1 Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University.
2 Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley.
3 Harvard Business School, Harvard University.


People believe that future others' preferences and beliefs will change to align with their own. People holding a particular view (e.g., support of President Trump) are more likely to believe that future others will share their view than to believe that future others will have an opposing view (e.g., opposition to President Trump). Six studies demonstrated this belief in a favorable future (BFF) for political views, scientific beliefs, and entertainment and product preferences. BFF is greater in magnitude than the tendency to believe that current others share one's views (false-consensus effect), arises across cultures, is distinct from general optimism, is strongest when people perceive their views as being objective rather than subjective, and can affect (but is distinct from) beliefs about favorable future policy changes. A lab experiment involving monetary bets on the future popularity of politicians and a field experiment involving political donations ( N = 660,542) demonstrated that BFF can influence people's behavior today.


donation; false consensus; forecasting; judgment; open data; open materials; prediction; preregistered; social cognition

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