One of the strongest findings in modern psychology is that people are terrible at predicting the strength of their emotions. We know winning the lottery will make us happy, for instance, but we think it will make us much happier, for much longer, than it actually does. The flip side is we get over things like the loss of a sports team or a political candidate surprisingly quickly. As Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert once told me, we rebound away from joy, but also from distress. Unless you’re a Kardashian, life is a perpetual regression toward the emotional mean.
This idea that things aren’t as bad as we think they’ll be was the basis for a recent study of transit satisfaction among commuters in Sweden. A group of researchers recruited 106 people in a midsized city who typically drove to work, and enticed them to switch to transit for a month with a 30-day prepaid fare pass. Before the month began, the researchers asked the drivers to predict how satisfied they’d be with the subway experience. Then the researchers checked back every week to see how the new riders were doing.
Read the entire article at: Atlantic Cities
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