APS Logo In an attempt to understand the psychological actions taking place while predicting future happiness, the health domain recently stumbled upon an astonishing discovery. According to a latest study, individuals forget their own personality when determining future emotional reactions. It was suggested that the natural sunny or negative dispositions are a more powerful predictor of future happiness than any particular event.

This phenomenon termed as ‘personality neglect’ was tested during the 2008 U.S. presidential election. In early October 2008, a large sample of Belgians anticipated the way they would feel if Barack Obama or John McCain won the U.S. presidential election. The day after the election, participants were again questioned about how they actually felt and were also subjected to personality tests. Since majority of the volunteers supported Obama, most predicted they would be happy if he won. It was mentioned that participants’ personalities did not influence their predictions.

Both neurotic and cheerful Obama fans claimed that victory would bring them equal happiness. Jordi Quoidbach, a psychological scientist at the University of Liege, Belgium and colleagues observed that people’s actual feelings the day after the election closely lined up with their personalities. Grumpy supporters, on the other hand, continued remaining relatively unhappy, despite the celebratory event. They may have forgotten their own tendency for malaise and overestimated how happy they would be. Positive individuals appeared more accurate in their forecasting as predictions made by them came true. Hence, positive people were probably less likely than negative people to see the world in an overly rosy light.

The study is published in the journal Psychological Science.