Unrealistically Optimistic Consumers: A Selective Hypothesis Testing Account for Optimism in Predictions of Future Behavior
Carlson, Kurt A.
Tanner, Robin J.
We propose that when predicting future behavior, consumers selectively (but unwittingly) test the hypothesis that they will behave ideally. This selective hypothesis testing perspective on unrealistic optimism suggests that estimates of future behavior should be similar to those made by individuals who assume that conditions will be ideal. Moreover, consumers who initially provide estimates assuming that conditions will be ideal should recognize that the world is not ideal and so should test a more realistic hypothesis. In line with these predictions, we find that ideal-world estimates (e.g., In an ideal world, how often will you exercise next week?) do not differ from standard estimates (e.g., How often will you exercise next week?). We also find that individuals who initially estimate their behavior in an ideal world subsequently make more realistic predictions.
University of Chicago Press
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