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The valence effect of prediction is the tendency for people to simply overestimate the likelihood of good things happening rather than bad things. ("Valence" refers to the positive or negative emotional charge something has.)
This finding has been corroborated by dozens of studies. In one straightforward experiment, all other things being equal, participants assigned a higher probability to picking a card that had a smiling face on its reverse side than one which had a frowning face.
The outcome of valence effects may be called wishful thinking.
- Rosehan, D. L. & Messick, S. (1966). Affect and expectation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 3, 38-44.
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