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Research Overview

Affective Forecasting as a Resource for Situation Selection Across the Lifespan

The resources for situation selection, an emotion regulation strategy in which one chooses situations based on their emotional potential, remain unknown. In two studies, Victoria Floerke, Molly Sands, Derek Isaacowitz, Ayanna Thomas, and Heather Urry tested the hypothesis that affective forecasting, or the ability to predict how situations will make one feel, would be associated with situation selection.

In Study 1, 53 younger adults completed behavioral assessments of both affective forecasting and situation selection on a single measurement occasion. Contrary to our predictions, there was no robust support for the hypothesis. However, a number of design limitations may have obscured the hypothesized association. Thus, we conducted a second study to retest the hypothesis after instituting several improvements in measurement and timing. In addition, we sought to test a new hypothesis that the association between affective forecasting and situation selection would vary by age.

In Study 2, 54 younger and 50 older adults completed behavioral assessments of affective forecasting and situation selection. Analyses indicated that greater forecasting success was associated with selecting fewer emotional relative to neutral situations. No robust age differences were found. This pattern suggests that affective forecasting may be a resource for situation selection across the lifespan.

Situation Selection

In Study 1, there was no association between younger adults' affective forecasting error and the extent to which they watched more emotional (than neutral) videos. In Study 2, there was an association between affective forecasting error and the extent to which participants watched more emotional (than neutral) videos; but no age difference was found.