All Positive Emotions Are Not Created Equal: the Case of Joy and Contentment

Michal Herzenstein, University of Delaware, USA
Meryl Gardner, University of Delaware, USA
We investigate the influence of joy and contentment on motivation and behavior. While both positive, these emotions are distinct and thus easy to manipulate and measure. Across four experiments we show that individuals who experience joy (contentment) are more likely to use approach (avoidance) motivation, find gain-framed (loss-framed) messages more compelling, are more risk seeking in the gain (loss) domain, and exhibit variety seeking (loyalty) behavior. This is because joy creates the urge to be playful and involves exploration and invention, while contentment prompts individuals to savor their current life circumstances and recent successes, which motivates them to avoid potentially mood changing behaviors.
[ to cite ]:
Michal Herzenstein and Meryl Gardner (2009) ,"All Positive Emotions Are Not Created Equal: the Case of Joy and Contentment", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 123-126.