When Guilt Begets Pleasure: The Positive Effect of a Negative Emotion

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

11 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2011 Last revised: 3 Oct 2013

Kelly Goldsmith

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management

Eunice Kim Cho

University of Toronto - Rotman International Centre for Pension Management

Ravi Dhar

Yale School of Management - International Center for Finance

Date Written: August 25, 2011

Abstract

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.

Keywords: emotion, hedonic consumption, guilt, pleasure

Suggested Citation

Goldsmith, Kelly and Cho, Eunice Kim and Dhar, Ravi, When Guilt Begets Pleasure: The Positive Effect of a Negative Emotion (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. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1917080 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1917080

Kelly Goldsmith (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/faculty/goldsmith/htm/

Eunice Kim Cho

University of Toronto - Rotman International Centre for Pension Management ( email )

151 Bloor Street West
Suite 702
Toronto, Ontario M5S1S4
Canada

Ravi Dhar

Yale School of Management - International Center for Finance ( email )

Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

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