Far we've been talking about all of these behaviors that don't make us as happy as we think. We went through things like getting lots of money, buying awesome stuff, getting perfect grades, and even the way we spend our leisure time is not making us as happy as we think. This raises this interesting question about why do we get happiness so wrong? Why do we have these minds that cause us to crave and seek out stuff that's really not going to make us as happy as we think? I think when we start thinking about this question, it's worth dealing with the different reasons we might be facing to do this. Across these lectures, we're going to cover three different reasons why our minds lie to us, why they lead us astray in these interesting ways. The first reason that we get happiness so wrong is that we seem to suck at what's called affective forecasting. What is affective forecasting? Well, affective forecasting is the fact that we make predictions about what our affective state is going to look like in the future based on different events or things that would happen to us. We do this really quite naturally and we get the valence of our affective forecasts right. We just get the nuance of them pretty wrong. To see this in action, I want you to use your own affective forecasting skills, this is going to be another audience participation thing. Which of these events do you effectively forecast would be better? You win a trip to Hawaii and you get to go to Hawaii with all of your friends for a week or you have a terrible cavity and you have to have a horrible root canal and you spend three hours at the dentist. Affectively forecast which of these is going to be better? Hawaii. Hawaii, yes. In fact, if we were to do this study, I don't think they've done the study on exactly these, you would be correct. Hawaii would be better than horrible root canal. We get the valence right. Hawaii positive, root canal not so much. The problem is we seem to mess up how good something like Hawaii would be. We mess up the intensity of the positive or negativeness of an event. We also mess up the duration. We think Hawaii would be really awesome for a while, but it wouldn't be awesome for as long as we think. To see this in action, I'm going show you real data on people's messed up affective forecasts. We're going to do it in a context that will probably feel very salient for high-school students, contexts of grades. You're probably making affective forecasts even right now that those of you who are in classes here on campus are making predictions about how you might feel if you've got an awesome grade or not so good grade. That's a forecast and a prediction you're making and we can ask whether or not it's accurate. In fact, that's just what Levine and colleagues did, they asked this. Picture this situation, you're in class, you've just taken some test and your teacher is handing back the test. You're about to see the grade you got on the test, you don't know yet. How would you feel if that grade was lower than you expected and how would you feel if it was higher than you expect? Higher than you expect is tricky because I think you all are perfectionist and think you're all going to get an A on everything. Let's say it was a really hard test and you felt you didn't do so well, what if you got a higher grade than you expect? We'll just have you rate it on a scale from 1-9. This is what Levine and colleagues did with college students. They brought them in and said, forecast your happiness if you got a grade that's higher than you expect scale from 0-9. College students said, I'm going to be really happy if I get a grade that's higher than I expect, and I'm going to be like yay. What if you get the grade that you expected to get? People are still going to be pretty happy. What if you get a grade that's lower than you expect, that's going to be terrible, you're going to be below the threshold of happiness, below the halfway point if you get a grade that's lower. That's people's predictions. But Levine and colleagues are smart, they just came back on the day that people got the test back and then surveyed them again when they actually got the grade to say, "Hey, did what you predict, was that what really happened?" Here's what happens when you look at how people actually feel. There's basically no difference between those different conditions. Two things are wrong. First, it's not as bad as you thought when you got a bad grade, it's not as good as you thought if you've got a good grade, and our predictions seem to be really off. We predict it's going to be awesome to get something great, it's not that awesome. We predict it's going to be terrible to get something bad, and it's not that terrible. These are the real data for grades, but there are similar real data if I were to look at people getting access to lots of money. How is it going to feel if you win a huge lottery and you get a million dollars? You predict it's going to be amazing, but it might not be as amazing as you think that's what the data suggests. Even other good things like getting a material possession like you win a new car, not as good as you expect. Other great things like even getting married, there's lots of data looking at these curves for marriage. People predict once I get married, I'm going to be this happy. You're happy, you get the valence right, but you're just not as happy as you think. Those are the good things, but the same is true for bad things. How terrible it would it be if you're in relationship to break up with somebody you predict bad, and the answer is it's bad, just not as bad as you think. There's even data for things as horrible as, what if you find out you have a really bad illness, where you find that you have cancer, how bad is that going to be? It's bad and you get the valence right, but even in that awful case it's not as bad as you think. Hopefully getting a terminal cancer is pretty far from your experience, I'll do another bad thing that might be closer to the experience for high-school students. You take your driver's exam. How many of you got your driver's license passed your driver's test? How many of you are thinking about getting your driver's license but you still got to do it? This is for you. You want to get your license, you go in and you fail. How bad are you predicting you would feel if you failed versus how bad would it actually be? That's what Ayton and colleagues looked at, they had teens forecast how bad is it going to be and then they check, some students will pass their driver's exam and that's great but for the students who fail, how bad is it really? What's sad is that because doing your driving exam is tough, there will be students who don't just fail once, but they fail multiple times. Ayton and colleagues asked these different questions like maybe you get more accurate if you fail once and it wasn't so bad, if you feel a second time you're, "I learned it wasn't so bad." But do people even learn to affectively forecast better over time? I'll show you the data. This is the first time students fail. The white bars are what they predict and the black bars are the actual happiness. Bigger bars is more happy. They predict they're not going to be that happy in the white, but then in the gray bars people are pretty happy. But that's the first time you never failed before. Now, once you've failed once, maybe you'll be more accurate if you fail in the future, turns out no. Every single time you just make the incorrect prediction where you think I'm going to be so miserable but then over time you feel pretty happy. In some cases, these events are not having the same impact you think. This leads to what psychologists call the impact bias. We think the impact of some event is going to be huge, we overestimate it, both in terms of its intensity, how awesome it's going to be or how bad it's going to be, and in terms of its duration, how long that impact is going to last. The impact bias means that we're affectively forecasting really bad. We're always predicting that the impact is going to be be big, but it's not nearly going to be as big as we think. It turns out that this messes up our happiness in some interesting systematic ways.