Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Moore School of Business

First Advisor

William O Bearden

Second Advisor

Caglar Irmak


Research has shown that consumers' future forecasts are vulnerable to being inaccurate (Gilbert et al. 1998). That is, anticipated affect does not always match experienced affect.

This difference between forecasted and experienced affect is called affective misforecasting. Across five studies, the present research examines the impact of affective misforecasting on prosocial behavior. More specifically, this research shows that with

general everyday helping behaviors, consumers overestimate their positive affective responses, i.e., consumers have more positive affect when they think about helping than when they actually help. This overestimation is shown to be due to consumers' perception of greater benefit to others when they think about versus engage in the

behavior. Thus, perceived benefit to others mediates the overestimation effect. Further, this effect is mitigated when consumers focus on the process of the helping behavior when they forecast their emotions. In other words, when consumers shift their focus from outcome oriented terms to more process oriented terms, affective misforecasting disappears. Furthermore, this effect is shown to decrease consumers' willingness to provide repeat help to the charity. Lastly, a boundary condition is shown: when helping is

costly, consumers underestimate rather than overestimate their positive affect. These findings provide implications for the prosocial behavior and affective forecasting literatures as well as managers of non-profit organizations.