Economics at your fingertips  

Anticipatory Anxiety and Wishful Thinking

Jan Engelmann, Maël Lebreton, Peter Schwardmann, Joël van der Weele and Li-Ang Chang
Additional contact information
Jan Engelmann: University of Amsterdam
Maël Lebreton: University of Geneva
Joël van der Weele: University of Amsterdam
Li-Ang Chang: CREED - University of Amsterdam

No 19-042/I, Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers from Tinbergen Institute

Abstract: It is widely hypothesized that anxiety and worry about an uncertain future lead to the adoption of comforting beliefs or "wishful thinking". However, there is little direct causal evidence for this effect. In our experiment, participants perform a visual pattern recognition task where some patterns may result in the delivery of an electric shock, a proven way of inducing anxiety. Participants engage in significant wishful thinking, as they are less likely to correctly identify patterns that they know may lead to a shock. Greater ambiguity of the pattern facilitates wishful thinking. Raising incentives for accuracy does not significantly decrease it.

Keywords: confidence; beliefs; anticipatory utility; anxiety; motivated cognition (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D83 C91 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-ene, nep-exp and nep-upt
Date: 2019-06-21
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link) (application/pdf)

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link:

Access Statistics for this paper

More papers in Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers from Tinbergen Institute Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Tinbergen Office +31 (0)10-4088900 ().

Page updated 2019-08-24
Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20190042