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.
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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.)
"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