Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1654673
 
 

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Reading Fictional Stories and Winning Delayed Prizes: The Surprising Emotional Impact of Distant Events


Jane Ebert


Brandeis University - International Business School

Tom Meyvis


New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing

2014

Journal of Consumer Research, 41 (October), 794-809.

Abstract:     
Hedonic experiences that involve real, immediate events (such as reading about a recent, real-life tragic event) naturally evoke strong affective reactions. When these events are instead fictional or removed in time, they should be perceived as more psychologically distant and evoke weaker affective reactions. The current research shows that, while consumers’ intuitions are in line with this prediction, their actual emotional experiences are surprisingly insensitive to the distancing information. For instance, readers of a sad story overestimated how much their emotional reaction would be reduced by knowing that it described a fictional event. Similarly, game participants overestimated how much their excitement about winning a prize would be dampened by knowing that the prize would only be available later. We propose that actual readers and prize winners were too absorbed by the hedonic experience to incorporate the distancing information, resulting in surprisingly strong affective reactions to fictional stories and delayed prizes.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 16

Keywords: forecasting, affect, psychological distance, fiction

JEL Classification: M30

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Date posted: August 9, 2010 ; Last revised: November 11, 2014

Suggested Citation

Ebert, Jane and Meyvis, Tom, Reading Fictional Stories and Winning Delayed Prizes: The Surprising Emotional Impact of Distant Events (2014). Journal of Consumer Research, 41 (October), 794-809.. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1654673 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1654673

Contact Information

Jane Ebert (Contact Author)
Brandeis University - International Business School ( email )
Mailstop 32
Waltham, MA 02454-9110
United States
Tom Meyvis
New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing ( email )
Henry Kaufman Ctr
44 W 4 St.
New York, NY
United States
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