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Explanations > Emotions > Anticipation

Bringing the future to the present | A second tension | Pleasure and pain | So what


Anticipation is powerful emotion of wanting and can have particular effect in changing minds.

Bringing the future to the present

Anticipation is thinking about the future, which as a species we do a lot of -- in fact research has shown that when we are not thinking about other things we often default to musing. In other words, we daydream and anticipate.

What we do in anticipation is effectively bring a future condition into the emotional present as we go out to tomorrow or beyond and mentally 'live' the anticipated condition, including experiencing the emotions we suppose we will feel then. This is not always accurate as we often assume future emotions will be more intense and last longer, making anticipation a particularly powerful effect.

A second tension

When we decide something, including to buy a product, we get a sense of closure as the tension of uncertainty or desire then converts into the certain expectation that we will get what we decided.

In this way, the tension of initial wanting becomes a tension of expecting, which we call 'anticipation'. This second tension is just as powerful at motivating people as the initial desire, perhaps more so as they now get a sense of ownership and will layer on the fear of loss.

Pleasure and pain

In thinking about the future, we consider both the good things that can happen and also the bad, which means we experience both anticipated pleasure and anticipated pain.

We anticipate both pleasure and pain. When we expect good things, we feel the pleasure we presume we will feel. When we expect bad things, we experience the anticipated discomfort, which we often describe as Stress.

Anticipation can therefore be seen as not a 'real' emotion as it largely involves experiencing expected other future emotions, such as joy or sadness.

So what?

So manage anticipation. Get them drooling in expectation as they cannot wait to get what you are selling. Keep people committed by reminding them of what they will get and that they may yet lose it.

See also

Stress, Need to explain


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