Like Schrdinger's cat, the impact bias is both dead and alive: reply to Wilson and Gilbert (2013). Academic Article uri icon


  • In their comment on our article on affective forecasting (Levine, Lench, Kaplan, & Safer, 2012), Wilson and Gilbert (2013) criticized the meta-analysis, proposed alternative explanations for the empirical studies, and concluded that the impact bias is alive and well. Our reply demonstrates that, irrespective of the exclusion of effects and selective recoding of effects recommended for the meta-analysis, the pattern of results remains the same: Study participants' forecasts are more accurate when they report their feelings about a focal event, or immediately after a focal event, than when they report their feelings in general after a delay. New analyses rule out individual differences and focalism as alternative explanations for the results of our empirical studies. These studies show that people can accurately predict the intensity of their feelings about events. People overestimate in predicting the impact of events on their emotional state in general, but clarifying the meaning of the forecasting question reduces the magnitude of this bias. We conclude that the impact bias, which encompasses overestimating the intensity of feelings about events and overestimating the intensity of feelings in general, is both dead and alive. The importance of predicting feelings about events for decision making and the reasons people predict some features of emotion more accurately than others are discussed.

published proceedings

  • J Pers Soc Psychol

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Levine, L. J., Lench, H. C., Kaplan, R. L., & Safer, M. A.

citation count

  • 14

complete list of authors

  • Levine, Linda J||Lench, Heather C||Kaplan, Robin L||Safer, Martin A

publication date

  • November 2013