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You can’t handle the truth (but I can)! The unexpected affective consequences of disagreement
Keywords: disagreement, affective forecasting, naive realism, emotion
Abstract: Individuals in conflict make decisions based on how they expect themselves and others to feel as a consequence of their choices. Seven studies (N=2,598) draw on theory and research on naïve realism to document the unexpected affective consequences of disagreement. Study 1 provides rich, open-ended text data regarding affective forecasts of disagreement. Studies 2a-2c reveal that (1) disagreement is characterized by anger rather than fear and (2) individuals systematically over-estimate fear felt by counterparts. Studies 2a-2c also vary the time course (past vs. present vs. future), source (politician vs. acquaintance), and type (political vs. non-political) of disagreement. Studies 3-5 further investigate the over-estimation of fear in counterparts. Study 3 rules out an alternative explanation. Study 4 identifies a mediating mechanism (psychological certainty) and statistical moderator (argument strength). Finally, Study 5 documents a behavioral consequence (argument entry). The present studies extend our understanding of how faulty affective forecasts drive sub-optimal choices.