Photo of Johanna Peetz

Johanna Peetz

Associate Professor

Phone:613-520-2600 x 1542
Office:314A Social Sciences Research Building
Website:Dr. Peetz's Home Page

Research Interests

Self and Identity, Close Relationships, Judgment and Decision Making, Social Cognition, Predictions, Time, Construal Level, Message Framing, Group Identities

I am broadly interested in people’s thoughts about the future and how these affect their current self-perception, attitudes, and behaviour.

First, I am interested in people’s predictions about their financial decisions and behaviour. People often attempt to estimate future expenses when faced with everyday choices (e.g., where to buy lunch, how to spend the weekend) as well as major life decisions (e.g., whether to have a child, when to retire). How accurate are these day-to-day (and major) predictions of future expenses? My studies have shown that people often fall prey to a persistent optimistic bias: They usually predict to spend less money in the future than they really end up spending. In current studies I aim to identify factors that influence the degree of optimism or accuracy of personal spending predictions.

Second, I am interested in predictions and behaviors in close relationships. When we make promises to a close other (e.g., a romantic partner) these promises usually include a prediction of what we believe ourselves capable to do for the other person. Oftentimes, this prediction is overly optimistic, leading to overpromising. I examine factors that contribute to the extent of overpromising and to the extent of actual pro-relational behaviour. One situational factor that contributed to greater correspondence between intended and actually performed actions in my studies was the immediacy of action. If a loving act can be performed without delay, then loving feelings for the partner predict the likelihood of performing such one-time gestures. Sustained care for a loved one, however, is predicted by personality variables such as conscientiousness, more than by feelings for the partner. Current studies examine other factors that influence the relative importance of relationship feelings and self-control resources on pro-relational behaviour.

Third, I am interested more generally in various psychological aspects of time. For example, time matters for our representation of identity. When we think about who we are, we not only consider what we are like right this moment, but also include past and future selves. These temporal selves might have a number of consequences: Thinking of favourable future selves might motivate people to self-improve. Time also matters for our appraisal of anticipated behaviour. Considering a temporally close or a temporally distant project can affect how this project is mentally represented and can also change the accuracy of people’s predictions about how (and how soon) they will finish this project.


Peetz, J., & Kammrath, L. (2011). Only because I love you: Why people make and why they break romantic promises. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 887-904.

Peetz, J., Buehler, R., & Britten, K. (2011). Only minutes-a-day: Reframing exercise duration affects exercise intention and behavior. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 33, 118-127.

Peetz, J., Buehler, R., & Wilson, A. E. (2010). Planning for the near and distant future: How does temporal distance affect task completion predictions? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 709-720.

Peetz, J., Gunn, G., & Wilson, A. E. (2010). Crimes of the past: Defensive temporal distancing in the face of past in-group wrongdoing. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 598-611.

Peetz, J., & Buehler, R. (2009). Is there a budget fallacy? The role of savings goals in the prediction of personal spending. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 1579-1591.