Special Session Summary Recent Advances in Research on Behavioral Self-Predicition

Eric R. Spangenberg, Washington State University
Therese A. Louie, University of Washington
David E. Sprott, Washington State University
[ to cite ]:
Eric R. Spangenberg, Therese A. Louie, and David E. Sprott (2000) ,"Special Session Summary Recent Advances in Research on Behavioral Self-Predicition", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 27, eds. Stephen J. Hoch and Robert J. Meyer, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 255.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 27, 2000      Page 255



Eric R. Spangenberg, Washington State University

Therese A. Louie, University of Washington

David E. Sprott, Washington State University

The importance of behavioral self-predictions is self-evident in the field of consumer behavior where consumers are often asked to estimate future behavior and researchers use self-predictions as a proxy for many theoretical constructs. Research suggests, however, that the act of making a self-prediction is by no means benign, and often has substantial import from theoretical, managerial and societal perspectives. The special session consisted of four papers presenting new research addressing the (1) nature of self-predictions and (2) effects of self-predictions.

The Nature of Self-Predictions

When planning future actions or forecasting purchases, consumers engage in the process of making predictions. Despite consumers’ best intentions, research findings suggest many occasions when predictions are not diagnostic of eventual behavior. Thus, moderators of prediction accuracy were explored in the session’s first paper and an attempt to deal with prediction inaccuracy was proposed in the second. Therese Louie and A. Wayne Perkins (both University of Washington) investigated predictions related to time management in the context of the planning fallacy (e.g., Buehler et al. 1994)Cthe tendency for individuals to underestimate taskcompletion times. Their research investigates the impact of risk, information processing, and gender on planning estimates.

The second paper focused on prediction inaccuracies as applied to purchase intentions. Vicki Morwitz (New York University), Gavan Fitzsimons (Pennsylvania), Don Lehman (Columbia) and Don Morrison (UCLA) explored integration of self-prediction in a support system for go-no-go decisions. Using a direct marketing database for a new product, self-prediction responses are adjusted for measurement and non-response artifacts, reducing error caused by prediction biases.

Effects of Self-Predictions

It has been demonstrated in a variety of contexts that prediction of one’s own behavior often has interesting and important consequences (e.g., Spangenberg and Greenwald 1999). Indeed, several studies have demonstrated that predicting future behavior can alter the likelihood of its performance. Regarding this "self-prophecy effect," prior research has clearly established the importance of the effect (average effect size, r=.20) while theoretical understanding is lacking. A paper by Eric Spangenberg, David Sprott (both Washington State), and Robert Fisher (Western Ontario) explored potential theoretical accounts for self-prophecy related to social norms. Among other findings, impression management was eliminated as an explanation for the effect of self-prophecy.

In the session’s final paper, Gavan Fitzsimons (Pennsylvania) and Baba Shiv (Iowa) explored whether presuppositions have effects similar to those found with intentions and predictions. Rationally, statements like, "If President Clinton had engaged in obstruction of justice, do you think he ought to be indicted?" should have little impact on individuals’ decisions. These authors demonstrated, however, that such statements could have effects on people’s choices, causing effects similar to factual information.


Buehler, Roger, Dale Griffin, and Michael Ross (1994), "Exploring the "Planning Fallacy": Why People Underestimate Their Task Completion Times," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67(September), 366-381.

Spangenberg, Eric R. and Anthony G. Greenwald (1999), "Social Influence by Requesting Self-Prophecy," Journal of Consumer Psychology, 8 (1), 61-90.