After Adversity Strikes: Predictions, Recollections and Reality Among People Experiencing the Onset of Adverse Circumstances


Journal Article

Numerous studies on affective forecasting have demonstrated that people frequently underestimate their ability to adapt to adverse circumstances. But to date, these studies have not assessed people's affective forecasts early in the experience of these new circumstances. We present two longitudinal studies of people experiencing new adversities. In the first study 54 patients experiencing new limb amputations were recruited to participate in a mailed survey. Patients assessed their well-being, functioning and general health (1) two weeks after discharge from the hospital and (2) three months later. At the first time point patients also predicted their well-being, functioning and general health at three months. In the second study 55 patients experiencing new colostomies were recruited and received mailed surveys at three time points; (1) at baseline (within one week after leaving the hospital), (2) one month after baseline, and (3) seven months after baseline. Again we assessed their actual and predicted well-being, functioning and general health. In both studies the actual change was compared to the change expected by patients. Across both studies, patients expected to significantly improve on all three domains but reported little actual improvement. Together, these studies demonstrated that people with new disabilities overestimate hedonic adaptation-they expect their overall well-being to improve more than it actually does. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Peeters, Y; Smith, DM; Loewenstein, G; Ubel, PA

Published Date

  • January 1, 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 13 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 589 - 600

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1389-4978

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s10902-011-9281-7

Citation Source

  • Scopus