I’m reading a really interesting book about psychology at the moment.
In one study, volunteers were told they won a free dinner at a fabulous French restaurant and were asked when they would like to eat it. They could perhaps go now, tonight, tomorrow or to put it off to a later date. Most people put it off to a week later.
Now I’m not privy to the exact details of the study, but the book argues that most people will chose this option because they get seven days to look forward to the meal (and hence gaining pleasure from looking forward to it) as well as the enjoyment from consuming the meal. “Forestalling pleasure is an inventive technique for getting double the juice from half the fruit. Indeed, some events are more pleasurable to imagine than to experience”.
It goes on to talk about why we anticipate the future: how it doubles the pleasure of enjoyable events and how it can minimise the impact of disappointing outcomes. Human beings, the book argues, are the only species to think about and to anticipate the future.
I might make another few posts on this book but in the mean time, I really recommend it if you’re interested in this kind of stuff.