Message no. 900[Branch from no. 886] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on
Yes, I think being mentally prepared does have a profound impact on the way we experience things. Anticipation helps us cope by allowing us to mentally rehearse responses. I think this is one reason I find such pleasure in movies about the future or in video games about the future -- even when the theme is disasters or threats, I feel I can prepare myself, and this illusion of potential control gives me some solace.
However, Baum and Greenburgh's study seems to say the opposite of what you and I describe -- they seem to show that anticipating crowding creates greater stress. Perhaps this is true when you have to get ready for an unpleasant experience that is not only unavoidable but which you know will not give you any control at all. In that case imagining the future discomfort can merely add to your stress, because you in effect have to go through the stress at least twice. This may be why most of us don't really want to know when or how we are going to die. If it is unavoidable and it isn't pleasant, some experiences are better off taking us by surprise, huh?