When It Could Have Been Worse, It Gets Better: How Favorable Uncertainty Resolution Slows Hedonic Adaptation

72 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2016 Last revised: 19 Oct 2016

See all articles by Yang Yang

Yang Yang

University of Florida

Yangjie Gu

HEC Paris

Jeff Galak

Carnegie Mellon University

Date Written: August 29, 2016


Thankfully, most product consumption experiences are positive. Unfortunately, however, those positive experiences are not always guaranteed to occur, and defects creep into the consumer experience. Though its assertion runs counter to most prescriptions, the current research proposes that exposing consumers to the mere possibility of these negative experiences, occurring in a consumption sequence increases consumers’ happiness with those experiences overtime. Six studies demonstrate this effect and further show that this effect is driven by hedonic responses as a result of favorable uncertainty resolution. That is, with the mere possibility of a negative experience, a consumer, who actually experiences a positive outcome, is likely to feel relief or pleasantness from not having to experience the negative experience. This research enriches existing literature on hedonic adaptation and uncertainty and has significant implications for consumer behavior.

Keywords: hedonic adaptation, happiness, uncertainty, favorable uncertainty resolution

Suggested Citation

Yang, Yang and Gu, Yangjie and Galak, Jeff, When It Could Have Been Worse, It Gets Better: How Favorable Uncertainty Resolution Slows Hedonic Adaptation (August 29, 2016). Journal of Consumer Research, Forthcoming, HEC Paris Research Paper No. MKG-2016-1171, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2831599

Yang Yang (Contact Author)

University of Florida ( email )

PO Box 117165, 201 Stuzin Hall
Gainesville, FL 32610-0496
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/yy1/

Yangjie Gu

HEC Paris ( email )

1 Rue De La Libération,
Jouy-en-Josas Cedex, 78351

Jeff Galak

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-5810 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.jeffgalak.com

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