Thank heaven it was a Dan Ariely day in the Wall Street Journal.
I’m not feeling so great, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about and writing my blog. Fortunately Da’s column usually provides something for me to write about, and today was no exception.
Here’s one of the letters he received, along with his response:
I am a frequent flier and I often have to deal with annoying delays, which can seriously affect my mood. What can I do to get less upset when a plane is late? —Hailey
Our happiness is largely influenced by our expectations; in the case of flying, that means our expected departure and arrival times. My friend Ory was once booked on a flight whose takeoff was delayed for seven hours, leaving all the passengers upset and complaining. But when the flight attendants announced that the delay would actually only be five hours, people cheered: compared with what they were expecting, a five hour delay seemed like a good deal. So the next time you take a flight, add two hours to the expected length of the trip and write down the later arrival time in your calendar. If the delay ends up being less than two hours, you’ll be happy.
I couldn’t agree more; it’s all about expectations.
As an example, two weeks ago Apple announced its first drop in holiday revenues and profits in more than a decade. However, it seemed as if it was not as bad as people expected and the result was that Apple’s stock rose almost 7% the next day.
Around that same time, Amazon posted its third record quarterly profit in a row, but gave downbeat guidance, disappointing investors. The result? The stock was down nearly 5% the next day.
So the lesson seems to be to expect the worse, and if it does not turn out that bad, then you will be pleasantly surprised.
And maybe now the title of this post will (hopefully) make some sense…