Forecasts about future emotion are often inaccurate, so why do people rely on them to make decisions? People may forecast some features of their emotional experience better than others, and they may report relying on forecasts that are more accurate to make decisions. To test this, four studies assessed the features of emotion people reported forecasting to make decisions about their careers, education, politics, and health. In Study 1, graduating medical students reported relying more on forecast emotional intensity than frequency or duration to decide how to rank residency programs as part of the process of being matched with a program. Similarly, participants reported relying more on forecast emotional intensity than frequency or duration to decide which universities to apply to (Study 2), which presidential candidate to vote for (Study 3), and whether to travel as Covid-19 rates declined (Study 4). Studies 1 and 3 also assessed forecasting accuracy. Participants forecast emotional intensity more accurately than frequency or duration. People make better decisions when they can anticipate the future. Thus, people’s reports of relying on forecast emotional intensity to guide life-changing decisions, and the greater accuracy of these forecasts, provide important new evidence of the adaptive value of affectivemore »
To date we know little about natural emotion word repertoires, and whether or how they are associated with emotional functioning. Principles from linguistics suggest that the richness or diversity of individuals’ actively used emotion vocabularies may correspond with their typical emotion experiences. The current investigation measures active emotion vocabularies in participant-generated natural speech and examined their relationships to individual differences in mood, personality, and physical and emotional well-being. Study 1 analyzes stream-of-consciousness essays by 1,567 college students. Study 2 analyzes public blogs written by over 35,000 individuals. The studies yield consistent findings that emotion vocabulary richness corresponds broadly with experience. Larger negative emotion vocabularies correlate with more psychological distress and poorer physical health. Larger positive emotion vocabularies correlate with higher well-being and better physical health. Findings support theories linking language use and development with lived experience and may have future clinical implications pending further research.
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- Nature Communications
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- National Science Foundation
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