More from the British Psychological Digest:
When healthy people imagine the quality of life they would have with a chronic illness, their estimates are much more negative than reports from people who actually have a chronic illness.
A recent study by Jason Riis at the University of Michigan confirms this. He asked chronically ill patients and healthy controls to rate their mood when prompted every 90 minutes or so by a pocket computer. This technique minimises the possibility of biased recall or patients putting on a brave face for their carers.
The average mood ratings made on the pocket computer were equally positive among both the patients and healthy controls. Yet when interviewed, the healthy participants predicted their mood would be negative most of them time if they had a chronic kidney illness. And the patients predicted their mood would be much more positive if they’d never had a kidney illness. That is, both groups of participants appeared to underestimate the resilience of people’s mood to illness.