When Guilt Begets Pleasure: The Positive Effect of a Negative Emotion
Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management
Eunice Kim Cho
University of Toronto - Rotman International Centre for Pension Management
Yale School of Management - International Center for Finance
August 25, 2011
Goldsmith, Kelly, Eunice Kim and Ravi Dhar (2012). “When Guilt Begets Pleasure: The Positive Effect of a Negative Emotion,” Journal of Marketing Research, 49, 6, 872-881
Understanding how emotions can affect pleasure has important implications for both individuals and for firms’ communication strategies. Prior research has shown that experienced pleasure often assimilates to the valence of one’s active emotions, such that negative emotions decrease pleasure. In contrast, we demonstrate that the activation of guilt, a negative emotion, enhances the pleasure experienced from hedonic consumption. We show that this effect occurs due to a cognitive association that exists between guilt and pleasure, such that activating guilt can automatically activate cognitions related to pleasure. Further, we show that this pattern of results is unique to guilt and cannot be explained by a contrast effect that generalizes to other negative emotions. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications these findings have for marketing and consumption behavior.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 11
Keywords: emotion, hedonic consumption, guilt, pleasure
Date posted: August 27, 2011 ; Last revised: October 3, 2013
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