Wishful Information Preference: Positive Fantasies Mimic the Effects of Intentions

Heather Barry Kappes, Gabriele Oettingen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When pursuing set goals or intentions, people prefer to acquire information about the pros rather than the cons of their goal pursuit. Little is known about information preferences at earlier stages, when people are not yet serious about pursuing a given future. In the present three studies, positive fantasies that depicted an idealized desired future-compared with fantasies that questioned whether the future would be so ideal-created a preference for pros over cons, just like set goals or intentions have been shown to do. Positive fantasies created a stronger preference for pros versus cons when people were not serious about pursuing an imagined future or had just foregone an opportunity to do so. Results suggest that before people are engaged in serious pursuits, positive fantasies spur the selective acquisition of pro information, which may lead to poor decisions even if the acquired information is carefully deliberated on later.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)870-881
Number of pages12
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • fantasies
  • goals
  • information preference
  • intentions
  • mental simulations
  • self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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