Citizens, especially Hollyweed, keep threatening us about moving. We keep checking and they never fulfill their threat. It is always just hot air and we end up being disappointed. She might have too much time on her hands.
Barbra, is this your problem?
Barbra Streisand moving to Canada over midterms? Not likely. Psychology explains why.
USA Today Network
Published 4:14 p.m. ET Nov. 1, 2018
With emotions swirling over midterms halfway through President Donald Trump’s first term, a familiar threat has risen again: “If ________ win(s), I’m moving to Canada.” Barbra Streisand told the New York Times she may head north if Republicans hold their grip on the House next week, saying political worries have driven her to eat pancakes, which are, she lamented, “very fattening.”
Moving to Canada may not help Streisand’s pancake habit — she likes hers with maple syrup — but experts on decision making say devastated Americans won’t likely move post-election, anyway. The reason? We’re really, really bad at predicting how we’ll be feeling in the future.
The process is called affective forecasting, and its why psychologists roll their eyes every two-to-four years when the “move-to-Canada” outcries flare up. Humans are good at predicting how an event will affect us — positively or negatively — but not how much or how long, research suggests.
“A lot of things people think will make them miserable — an illness or an amputation or someone they detest winning an election — as things pass by, those things have a negligible effect on people’s happiness levels,” said Edie Greene, a University of Colorado psychology professor who studies how decision-making affects laws.
That’s because, well, life goes on. And over time, our happiness settles back to wherever it was prior. Greene points to a classic study from the 1970s that showed lottery winners’ experienced a short-term spike in happiness only to, eventually, re-stabilize to the happiness they held before — levels virtually equal to those who did not win the lottery at all.
After fortune or tragedy, Greene said, there are still dishes to be cleaned, groceries to be bought and TV to be watched. The constellation of factors affecting our lives largely stays the same. And largely so do we.
“Most folks are surprised by that. Are we aware we don’t predict our emotions very well? I think not,” she said. “I think we won’t have very good ability to think into the future about something that is kind of intangible.”
The moment you realize you won’t really leave
At least two factors muddy our ability to think into the future, said Eva Buechel, a University of Southern California professor who researches decision making and judgement. The first is focalism, our tendency to obsess over a single event while downplaying the myriad other factors that shape our lives.
“We’re focusing on one thing, like the election, but once the election comes around, it’s (only) one thing that happens in our lives,” Buechel said. “But others do, too: We might be proposed to. We might get a raise.”
And that raise or new spouse might outweigh any election outcome.
A second factor is construal level theory, a concept within social psychology that says the further away an event is — say, a move to Canada — the more we see it in an idealized, holistic way.
“The problem is, as events come closer, like then when you see whole forest versus the trees, everything becomes more concrete, and you realize: I can’t leave this country,” Buechel said.
She continued: “Maybe (you) don’t have the passport. It would mean quitting your job. Moving away from your family. These things become complete, versus a whole representation. You don’t want to live in this country, but you also don’t want to be far from your family.”
Canada’s immigration site crashed repeatedly under heavy traffic in the days following Trump’s election. But a year-plus into his presidency, only about 2,000 more Americans than normal actually moved there, Canada’s Global News reported, amounting to “a modest uptick.”
After Democrats’ last presidential defeat in 2004, Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert said few would move to Canada then because of humans’ natural ability to glom onto happiness and accentuate it after a disappointment. In a Times column, he describes how the brain finds “silver linings, and most linings are sufficiently variegated to reward the mind’s quest.”
Guessing how you’ll feel after a major event is tough — “I study this extensively, every day, and I’m still terrible at it,” Buechel said — but there’s one trick that Buechel and Greene note might help: Remembering how you felt right after a similar event last happened.
Did you move after Trump (or Obama) was elected? If you didn’t then, you likely won’t now.
“Very much about ourselves will stay the same,” Greene said. “Very much about our circumstances will stay the same.”
Again, citizens keeping threatening us about moving. We keep checking and they never fulfill their threat. It always just hot air.