According to Jon Gertner’s, article, “The Futile Pursuit of Happiness” humans are not poor judges when it comes to foreseeing future emotional states. Professors of psychology in various universities Daniel Gilbert, Tim Wilson, Dan Kahneman and an economist George Loewenstein have embarked on studying a specific emotional and behavioral prediction. One of their studies was hedonic forecasting, which refers to the prediction of one’s emotional state in future as a process that affects behavior, preferences, and decision-making. For an instance, how do we imagine emotions and feelings about winning the lottery? How that will affect our delight, humans are more likely to overrate future positive feelings, not putting into account the other several contributing factors to their emotional state separate from the exclusive lottery event. This article casts a glance on Gilbert’s experiment concerning the emotional and happiness predictors amongst human beings as provided by Jon Gertner.
Based on (Gertner, 2), the other perceptive preferences related to logical errors in affective forecasts are empathy gaps and impact bias. An empathy gap is a cognitive bias whereby an individual underrates the effects of direct drives and instead elements behavior preferably to others that are not visceral aspects. This gap is less likely to foresee our actions in hot or cold states. Loewenstein among other health experts explored the implications of the empathy gap in the state of sexual decision-making. They researched on why people would engage in sex without using a condom or sleeping with a minor in an aroused "hot" state and not in an unaroused “cold” state.
The impact bias is a form of durability bias, which refers to the tendency of people overrating the intensity and duration of future feeling states and emotions. The impact bias characterizes how we react to the idea and excitement of owning a Porsche car rather than a Chevy or being a medic instead of a plumber. An individual may hold high expectations, however, the impact bias explains how less cool it could be than predicted and will last for a shorter time than is expected. Gilbert adds that such errors of expectations may result in blunders when selecting what we consider might give us pleasure, and he refers to this situation as “miswanting” (Gertner, 2).
Institutional judgment according to Loewenstein is how we make philosophical decisions for example how we spend health care dollars. He admits that we would be happier if we would use our institutional judgment to enhance our individual judgment. Gilbert’s research on psychological immune system has brought about belief that he could adapt to even the most awful twist of events that have made him be able to take chances on life. For example, he admits he is getting married because he believes his bride will make him happy forever. Life is a contest and taking the positives and avoiding the negative is what the immune system is all about (Gertner, 3).
According to Gertner (4), Gilbert does an experiment to demonstrate adaptation where he enquires from the members of Group A concerning their feelings and in case of a negative outcome, impact bias thrills in and they foresee that they will have a bad feeling and instead they end up being okay. If he tells group B that the other group was okay, they anticipate they will also be okay. Adaptation is a slow usually unconscious adjustment of an individual’s view, feelings or decisions. For example, when you do not get the desired job but find a similar one you will adapt to the new job because you will be happy even with the new job. The illusionary assessments human beings articulate in their emotions to adjust to various circumstances are the reason they keep moving towards a certain direction instead of another. It is crucial to have the illusions because they maintain a relevant balance is society where it is not all about conforming to one perspective.
Gertner, Jon. The Futile Pursuit of Happiness. New York. New York Times Magazine. 2003.