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Feeling the Future: The Emotional Oracle Effect

Michel Tuan Pham, Leonard Lee and Andrew T. Stephen
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 39, No. 3 (October 2012), pp. 461-477
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/663823
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Page Count: 17
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Feeling the Future: The Emotional Oracle Effect
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Eight studies reveal an intriguing phenomenon: individuals who have higher trust in their feelings can predict the outcomes of future events better than individuals with lower trust in their feelings. This emotional oracle effect was found across a variety of prediction domains, including (a) the 2008 US Democratic presidential nomination, (b) movie box-office success, (c) the winner of American Idol, (d) the stock market, (e) college football, and even (f) the weather. It is mostly high trust in feelings that improves prediction accuracy rather than low trust in feelings that impairs it. However, the effect occurs only among individuals who possess sufficient background knowledge about the prediction domain, and it dissipates when the prediction criterion becomes inherently unpredictable. The authors hypothesize that the effect arises because trusting one’s feelings encourages access to a “privileged window” into the vast amount of predictive information that people learn, often unconsciously, about their environments.

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