Great Expectations

In the previous post (15 January 2015: "Feeling Deflated?") we wrote about expectations and how they influence behaviour. It's interesting then to look at what happens when expectations are in fact met - or not.

We will usually be quite pleased (proud even, if it reflects some serious analysis) when our expectations prove correct. The only danger is when we begin to believe too strongly in our ability to see the future and act upon that belief. Somewhere within all this is the so called "hot hand" idea, which comes from sport. It describes the often mistaken view that a person who has been successful in a random event has a higher chance of continuing success with additional attempts. In short, a notion that success naturally breeds success. In business terms, it can mean that we over-invest or fail to diversify risk.

Just as damaging is when expectations are not met. Psychologists have demonstrated that a sense of loss weighs more heavily on the mind than one of gain. Therefore, disappointment can produce very strong reactions (see 14 December 2014: "The Correct Response") and a loss of perspective, with the wrong steps taken to try to put things right.

So the message is - expectations are like a spring or a strong elastic band. They can be stretched quite effectively, but they can also bite back rather suddenly. We should be cautious of the effects of expectations, but also be aware that they are present in the first place. As we suggest in the previous post, inflation is OK, but preferably in small doses.


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