Psychological Distance in Hedonic Prediction and Consumption: The Surprising Impact of Distant Events
Brandeis University - International Business School
New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing
May 6, 2011
We demonstrate that, although consumers strongly believe that they will be less emotionally affected by more psychologically distant events, consumers’ actual emotional reactions are often surprisingly insensitive to psychological distance. Specifically, readers of a sad story overestimated how much their emotional reaction to the story would be reduced by knowing that it is fictional or that it happened in the distant past; and winners of a prize overestimated how much their excitement would be dampened by knowing that the prize will only be available later. We propose that consumers overestimate the importance of the distancing information because they fail to appreciate the absorbing power of the hedonic experience. In support of this mechanism, we find that prize winners do adjust their emotional reaction to the delayed availability of the prize, but only when they are not currently absorbed by the experience of winning.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 50
Keywords: forecasting, affect, psychological distance, fiction
JEL Classification: M30working papers series
Date posted: August 9, 2010 ; Last revised: June 18, 2011
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