HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series
HKS Working Paper No. RWP14-048
We propose that people hold a belief in a favorable future (BFF), projecting that the future will change in ways advantageous to their current interests. People believe that their political views, entertainment preferences, and scientific beliefs will be more widely held by others in the future (Study 1). BFF is greater in magnitude than the false-consensus effect (Study 2). BFF does not reflect a generalized optimism about the future or a belief that others will become more similar to the self: people believe the future will change in self-benefitting way, in particular (Study 3). BFF is greatest when people believe their views are based on objective truth (Study 4). Ironically, BFF may make the futures people anticipate less likely to occur by undermining people’s motivation to take action today to bring about the favorable futures they believe to be inevitable.
Rogers, Todd, and Michael I. Norton. "The Belief in a Favorable Future." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP14-048, October 2014.