Personal spending predictions are sometimes optimistically biased because predictors focus on their current savings goals. The present studies explored the role of savings goals in prediction by comparing spending predictions for time periods and discrete events. Contemplating a concrete event may elicit specific goals that compete with a focus on savings goals. Consistent with this hypothesis, Studies 1 and 2 revealed that participants relied less on savings goals, and were less biased, when predicting event spending rather than weekly spending. Study 3 demonstrated the causal impact of focusing on goals that compete with savings goals: Participants induced to focus on competing goals predicted to spend more money next week, and relied less on savings goals to generate their predictions.

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Journal Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Peetz, J, & Buehler, R. (Roger). (2013). Different goals, different predictions: Accuracy and bias in financial planning for events and time periods. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 43(5), 1079–1088. doi:10.1111/jasp.12072