Why We Chicken Out At The Last Minute
do we say we’re going to do brave and risky things only to chicken out
at the last minute? Researchers have found the answer:
Scientists led by University of Colorado Boulder psychology and
neuroscience professor Leaf Van Boven hypothesized that this illusion
of courage is the result of an empathy gap, or our inability to forecast
how we will behave in emotional situations. In two of the experiments,
they asked college students if they would be willing to engage in a
future embarrassing situation, such as telling a funny story or dancing
to James Brown’s "Sex Machine" in front of their class, in
exchange for a few dollars. Some of the students were asked outright,
while others were first exposed to short films that aroused feelings
of fear and anger.
The students who were primed with negative emotions were much more
accurate in predicting their true willingness to perform in public.
The undergraduates who did not view movie clips were less empathetic
to their future selves and significantly overestimated their interest.