Special Session Summary New Perspectives on Consumer Evaluations of Experiences That Extend Over Time: Empirical Regularities, Integration Rules and Formal Modeling

Gal Zauberman, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
[ to cite ]:
Gal Zauberman (2001) ,"Special Session Summary New Perspectives on Consumer Evaluations of Experiences That Extend Over Time: Empirical Regularities, Integration Rules and Formal Modeling", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, eds. Mary C. Gilly and Joan Meyers-Levy, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 327.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 28, 2001     Page 327



Gal Zauberman, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Research on hedonic evaluations of extended experiences has focused on the relationship between the patterns of experiences that extend over time and their corresponding overall hedonic evaluations. The general finding is that when consumers provide global evaluations of extended experiences, they appear to extract only a few key aspects of these sequences and use them to form overall evaluations of the sequence as a whole (e.g., trend, peak and end intensity). The purpose of this session was to present three lines of research that extend the current understanding of the way that consumers perceive sequences. Collectively, this session extend current knowledge in three ways: 1) examine sequential effects in greater detail and present novel empirical regularities; 2) demonstrate the rules consumers use when evaluating experiences over time, both for single and multiple experiences; and 3) present a formal model with a goal of accounting for multiple empirical regularities under a single framework.

The presentation by Rebecca Ratner, Deborah MacInnis and Allen Weiss focused on the way that people make decisions about how to sequence items within a collection (e.g., a set of poems, a sequence of songs on a CD). Previous research indicated that people prefer improving sequences that end on a "positive note." In this paper, the researchers presented evidence that, in addition to a strong end, people also prefer a strong beginning. The authors find that respondents’ prototypical "ideal" pattern is to start with a favorite and end with a favorite. Whereas previous research focused on people’s preference for a (relatively) favorable ending, one of the main points highlighted here was that consumers also want a favorable beginning.

The presentation by Gal Zauberman focused on the integration rules that consumers utilize to evaluate experiences that extend over time. A set of experiments illustrated two main points. First, the integration rules consumers use are highly context dependent and systematically vary as a function of their evaluation goal. Second, the evaluation of sequences is affected by the way the sequence is perceived, whether as a single unit or a combination of separate parts. A theory of how people evaluate extended experiences was proposed.

The presentation by Dan Ariely and Teck Ho focused n the importance of a formal model of the way consumers evaluate extended experiences. The authors presented a simple integration model that accounts for a wide range of stylized facts that have been identified in past research. In addition to accounting for the known results, their model also provides two new predictions, which are tested and verified in two experiments. The first prediction is that holding peak and end constant, consumers will prefer sequences that are characterized by greater improvement in the latter part of their experience. The second prediction is that breaks from the slope (first derivative) will decrease overall evaluation, even if they cause overall improvement in the intensity of the experience.

Collectively, the three papers suggest new directions for research on extended experiences. The first paper presented new insights about consumers’ preferences for how to sequence events, including a comparison of the actual sequences marketers have used with the ideal sequences that consumers report that they would like to experience. The second paper demonstrated the context dependency of the integration rules and extends existing research about single experiences to a focus on multiple experiences. The final paper presented a formal model as a simple, parsimonious way of understanding how consumers evaluate experiences that extend over time. Drazen Prelec, the discussant, outlined how the session’s three papers inform and qualify the findings of previous research.