Alvin Powell in The Harvard Gazette:
Look away, America. For your own good, look away. Everything will still be there when you come back. Even once the vote counting’s done, there’ll be the recounting, and the tag-along lawsuits.
So take a walk, take a breath, take a break from the election drama unspooling at a pace better suited to a garden slug than an advanced nation’s sophisticated vote-counting system. So, psychologists say, maybe you should get off the smartphone, get back to work, and get some perspective. Though weighty issues like climate change, the economy, and the COVID pandemic also are on the table, the science of “affective forecasting” assures us that we’re lousy judges of our own future emotions on such matters.
“One of the things that happens with uncertainty is we often don’t think realistically about the outcome, and we tend to think catastrophically. So, you’re already thinking that if your candidate loses it’s going to be awful, it’s going to be unbearable, it’ll be disastrous,” said psychologist Shelley Carson, a lecturer at the Harvard Extension School and associate of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Psychology Department. “We overestimate how this event — or any event — is going to affect our happiness in the future.”