Contrast Against the Future: the Unexpected Effect of Expectation

Tom Meyvis, New York University, USA
Leif Nelson, University of California at Berkeley, USA
We demonstrate that, although people do not contrast their enjoyment of a current experience against their enjoyment of a preceding experience, they do contrast it against their enjoyment of an anticipated experience. Classical music becomes more enjoyable when anticipating an irritating noise, but not following an irritating noise. Similarly, an irritating noise becomes more irritating when anticipating pleasant music, but not following pleasant music. This forward-looking hedonic contrast effect occurs across domains, can lead to greater enjoyment of declining rather than improving sequences, but does not obtain when the current experience is ambiguously valenced (in which case assimilation occurs).
[ to cite ]:
Tom Meyvis and Leif Nelson (2010) ,"Contrast Against the Future: the Unexpected Effect of Expectation", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 215-218 .