How long will it take? Power biases time predictions

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 2.29). 07/2010; 46(4). DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2010.03.005


People tend to underestimate the time it takes to accomplish tasks. This bias known as the planning fallacy derives from the tendency to focus attention too narrowly on the envisaged goal and to ignore additional information that could make predictions more accurate and less biased. Drawing on recent research showing that power induces attentional focus, four studies tested the hypothesis that power strengthens the tendency to underestimate future task completion time. Across a range of task domains, and using multiple operationalizations of power, including actual control over outcomes (Study 1), priming (Studies 2 and 3), and individual differences (Study 4), power consistently led to more optimistic and less accurate time predictions. Support was found for the role of attentional focus as an underlying mechanism for those effects. Differences in optimism, self-efficacy, and mood did not contribute to the greater bias in powerful individuals’ forecasts. We discuss the implications of these findings for institutional decision processes and occupational health.


Available from: Mario Weick, Jan 16, 2016
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    • "One of the problems that makes time management (Koch and Kleinmann 2002) so difficult is the planning fallacy: the tendency to underestimate future task duration despite knowing that previous tasks overran (Kahneman and Tversky 1979). Considerable research (e.g., Buehler et al. 1997; Burt and Kemp 1994; Halkjelsvik et al. 2011; König 2005; Roy et al. 2008; Thomas et al. 2004; Weick and Guinote 2010; for recent overviews see Buehler et al. 2010, and Halkjelsvik and Jørgensen 2012) has almost universally found that tasks take longer than predicted, and this has been observed on various laboratory and real world tasks including writing college assignments (e.g., Buehler et al. 1994) and shopping for gifts (Kruger and Evans 2004). Such underestimation of task duration may cause serious problems; for example, students may start to work on assignments too late to achieve good grades and gifts bought in the rush may not have the anticipated consequences (see Kruger and Evans 2004). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It is a common time management problem that people underestimate the duration of tasks, which has been termed the “planning fallacy.” To overcome this, it has been suggested that people should be informed about how long they previously worked on the same task. This study, however, tests whether previous misestimation also affects the duration estimation of a novel task, even if the feedback is only self-generated. To test this, two groups of participants performed two unrelated, laboratory-based tasks in succession. Learning was manipulated by permitting only the experimental group to retrospectively estimate the duration of the first task before predicting the duration of the second task. Results showed that the experimental group underestimated the duration of the second task less than the control group, which indicates a general kind of learning from previous misestimation. The findings imply that people could be trained to carefully observe how much they misestimate task duration in order to stimulate learning. The findings are discussed in relation to the anchoring account of task duration misestimation and the memory-bias account of the planning fallacy.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Current psychology (New Brunswick, N.J.)
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    • "未来任务时间估计是指人们凭借记忆和经验对将要进行的任务所需要的时间进行判断的过程。人们对未 来任务的时间估计会产生偏差,对其心理机制的解释主要包括计划谬误理论、记忆偏差理论和解释水平 理论。任务性质(包括任务持续时间的长短、任务的复杂度和任务熟悉度等)会对未来任务的时间估计产 生影响,各理论从不同角度阐释了任务性质对未来任务的时间估计的影响。未来研究需进一步探索任务 性质与人格特质在影响未来任务时间估计背后的关系以及未来任务时间估计的脑机制。 关键词 任务性质,未来任务,时间估计,计划谬误)。然而,人们在对完成将来任务所 需时间进行预测和判断时,往往是不准确的(郑秋强,徐富明,罗寒冰,李彬,张慧,2014)。一开始,研 究发现人们很容易对任务完成时间形成低估,即使多人的群体性决策估计也无法避免(Kahneman & Tversky, 1979; Buehler, Griffin, & Ross, 1994; Buehler, Messervey, & Griffin, 2005)。后来也有研究发现人们 对未来任务完成时间的估计也有高估的现象(Burt & Kemp, 1994; Roy & Christenfeld, 2007)。 前人对未来任 务时间估计出现谬误这一现象及其影响因素进行了大量的研究, 并在此基础上提出了多种理论进行解释, 发现目标任务的性质是影响未来任务时间估计谬误的一大因素(Halkjelsvik & Jørgensen, 2012)。)。计划谬误理论在降低谬误的方法上主要从凸显过去类似经验着手,如使用观察者视角以及 经验提示等。考虑到也有研究发现被试会高估短时任务和新异任务的完成时间(Burt & Kemp, 1994; Roy, 2005),Burt 和 Kemp (1994)在短时的未来任务完成时间估计发现高估,以及 Roy 等(2005)总结在新异任 务的估计中发现了高估,Griffin 和 Buehler (2005)认为计划谬误理论只适用于时间足够长且有一定相似过 去经验的条件下,这也成为了该理论的局限所在。Burt & Kemp, 1994),圣诞购物(Buehler & Griffin, 2003),也有在实验室内进行的任务,如数纸 张(),文档格式修改(Weick & Guinote, 2010)。影响未来任务估计准确性的目标任 务性质的分类有多种,根据任务时间长短的不同分为短时任务和长时任务;根据任务复杂程度的不同可 分为简单任务和复杂任务;以及根据个体对任务的熟悉程度分为熟悉任务与新异任务等。目标任务性质 会影响个体对任务完成时间估计的准确性。Thomas, Newstead, & Handley, 2003)、 折纸任务(Roy & Christenfeld, 2007)中也得到了相同的结果。 然而, 在许多长时任务时间估计研究中都发现了低估完成时的现象,如程序编写任务(Connolly & Dean, 1997)、 论文写作任务(Koole & van't Spijker, 2000)、学校作业任务(Buehler & Griffin, 2003)、阅读任务(Pezzo, Litman, & Pezzo, 2006)和小结写作任务(Siddiqui, May, & Monga, 2014, 1998; Block & Reed, 1978 "
    Preview · Article · Jan 2015
    • "The three scales were also highly correlated (rs = 0.60 to 0.70), and may tap the same underlying construct: a desire for control or an actual feeling of control. Weick and Guinote (2010) found an effect of power on time predictions. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Halkjelsvik, T., Rognaldsen, M. & Teigen, K. H. (2012). Desire for control and optimistic time predictions. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 53, 499–505. Few studies have investigated individual differences in time predictions. We report two experiments that show an interaction between the personality trait Desirability of Control and reward conditions on predictions of performance time. When motivated to perform a task quickly, participants with a strong desire for control produced more optimistic predictions than those with a weaker desire for control. This effect could also be observed for a completely uncontrollable task. The results are discussed in relation to the finding that power produces more optimistic predictions, and extend this work by ruling out some previously suggested explanations.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2012 · Scandinavian Journal of Psychology
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