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

January 20, 2014


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. We show that, while consumers’ intuitions are in line with this prediction, their actual emotional experiences are often 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, winners of a prize overestimated how much their excitement would be dampened by knowing that the prize would only be available later. We propose that consumers overestimate the impact of the distancing information because they fail to appreciate the absorbing power of the hedonic experience. In support of this mechanism, we find that the emotional reactions of prize winners and movie watchers are indeed subdued by the delayed availability of the prize and the fictional nature of the movie, but only when consumers are not fully absorbed by the hedonic experience.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 60

Keywords: forecasting, affect, psychological distance, fiction

JEL Classification: M30

working papers series


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Date posted: August 9, 2010 ; Last revised: January 20, 2014

Suggested Citation

Ebert, Jane and Meyvis, Tom, Reading Fictional Stories and Winning Delayed Prizes: The Surprising Emotional Impact of Distant Events (January 20, 2014). 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
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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