It is difficult for humans to predict how they will behave in the future. A hot-cold empathy gap occurs when people underestimate the influence of visceral states (e.g. being angry, in pain, or hungry) on their behavior or preferences. In medical decision making, for example, a hot-to-cold empathy gap may lead to undesirable treatment choices when cancer patients are asked to choose between treatment options right after being told about their diagnosis. Even low rates of adherence to drug regimens among people with bipolar disorder could be explained partly by something akin to a cold-to-hot empathy gap, while in a manic phase, patients have difficulty remembering what it is like to be depressed and stop taking their medication (Loewenstein, 2005).


Loewenstein, G. (2005). Hot-cold empathy gaps and medical decision-making. Health Psychology, 24(Suppl. 4), S49-S56.


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