Article | Social Psychological & Personality Science | January 2011

Good Intentions, Optimistic Self-Predictions, and Missed Opportunities

by Derek Koehler, Rebecca White and Leslie John


Self-predictions are highly sensitive to current intentions but often largely insensitive to factors influencing the readiness with which those intentions are translated into future behavior. When such factors are under a person's control, they could be used to increase the probability that desired future behavior will be undertaken, but they will be underused if self-predictions underestimate their impact. This hypothesis was borne out in two experiments involving working students attempting to achieve a savings goal: They strongly intended to save, made overly optimistic self-predictions even when it was costly to do so, and were willing to pay very little for a service that could help them save more because they did not anticipate its impact on their future behavior. By contrast, students who were informed of the service's actual impact were willing to pay more for it, and students did not underestimate the impact of the service on fellow students.

Keywords: Planning; Saving; Behavior; Forecasting and Prediction;


Koehler, Derek, Rebecca White, and Leslie John. "Good Intentions, Optimistic Self-Predictions, and Missed Opportunities." Social Psychological & Personality Science 2, no. 1 (January 2011): 90–96.