Does Hopelessness Accurately Predict How Bad You Will Feel in the Future? Initial Evidence of Affective Forecasting Errors in Individuals with Elevated Suicide Risk


Background: Forecasts about the future can dictate actions and behaviors performed in the present moment. Given that periods of elevated acute suicide risk often consist of elevated negative affect and hopelessness, individuals during these periods may more bias-prone and make decisions (e.g., suicide attempts) based on inaccurate affective forecasts about their futures (e.g., overestimating future pain/psychiatric symptom severity). The aim of this study was to examine the accuracy of hopelessness in predicting future feelings—an important step for understanding possible decision-making biases that may occur near elevated periods of acute suicide risk. Methods: Secondary longitudinal data analyses were performed on two randomized clinical trial samples of active-duty military personnel (Ns = 97 and 172) with past-week suicide ideation and/or a lifetime suicide attempt history. Results: Results were consistent with the affective forecasting literature; in both samples, individuals overestimated future pain. Conclusions: Results from two studies offer preliminary evidence for the existence of affective forecasting errors near the time of a suicide attempt/during periods of elevated suicide risk.

Publication Title

Cognitive Therapy and Research