Description

• What is it?

Have you ever seen someone complain throughout an activity, and later tell people that it was amazing? When people do this, they may not be deceiving, but rather under the influence of rosy retrospection. We view past events more positively than present events, and likely more positively than is accurate. Rosy retrospection differs from nostalgia in that nostalgia describes a general longing for the past, while rosy retrospection is a cognitive bias in which we view the past inaccurately, through ‘rose-colored glasses’.

• Why does it matter?

If you have an inaccurate view of past events, you are likely judging future events unfairly. Something may be fairly enjoyable, but a comparison to a positively distorted past event may diminish your perception of the current event

Example

In several experiments, vacationers were asked to rate their vacations shortly after taking them, and then re-rate them a few months later. Participants gave higher ratings several months after than they had at first.

Further Reading

The Decision Lab

The Decision Lab is a think tank focused on creating positive impact in the public and private sectors by applying behavioral science.

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