Examining the Paradoxical Effects of Counterfactual Generation in Negative Consumption

Candy K. Y. Ho, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
Jessica Y. Y. Kwong, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
Generating counterfactuals of how negative consumption might have turned out better has been viewed as functional (because it helps solve problems associated with the consumption) but painful (because it accentuates negative feelings). This research teases out these two effects and argues that they are driven by different counterfactuals. To start with, this research classifies counterfactuals into process- and outcome-focused counterfactuals. Then it demonstrates that while process-focused (vs. outcome-focused) counterfactuals better help consumers solve problems associated with the consumption, outcome-focused (vs. process-focused) counterfactuals intensify negative feelings. Findings imply consumers may enjoy the problem-solving function of counterfactual generation without hurting their feelings.
[ to cite ]:
Candy K. Y. Ho and Jessica Y. Y. Kwong (2010) ,"Examining the Paradoxical Effects of Counterfactual Generation in Negative Consumption", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 587-588 .