Affective Forecasting Failures and Attitude Change in the Context of Political Policy Upheaval
Hanson, Brittany E
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Although past research has established that people are poor at forecasting their affective responses to future events, it is not yet clear what the consequences of these errors may be. The current dissertation explored whether peoples’ errors in forecasting their positive and negative affect in response to the Supreme Court’s decisions regarding same-sex marriage (SSM) in 2013 and 2015 predicted attitude change about the issue. Using a four-wave longitudinal design over five years, participants reported their anticipated and actual affective responses to the decisions as well as their stance on same-sex marriage and several LGBT related issues. Results indicated people who underestimated how much positive affect they would feel if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of SSM became more supportive of SSM in the years following the decisions. Similarly, people who overestimated how much positive affect they would feel if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of SSM became less supportive of SSM. These relationships were further qualified by how people felt initially about SSM, with the effect being larger among those who opposed SSM prior to the Supreme Court rulings. In contrast, failure to accurately forecast negative affect did not predict attitude change. Participants’ positive affect forecasting errors also predicted their attitude change on same-sex couple adoption (a closely related issue) and, to a lesser extent, prohibiting gay Boy Scout troop leaders, but not laws to protect LGBT identifying people from job discrimination. The current findings are discussed as they relate to research on affective forecasting failure, attitude change, and opinion leadership of political elites.
SubjectAffective Forecasting Attitudes Attitude Change Supreme Court Same-sex marriage