The Effects of Mastery on Subjective Utility

The pleasure of mastery, and the subsequent motivation to achieve and to improve skills, is an important characteristic of human beings that economic models have overlooked. We assess the effects of mastery on persistence at, and enjoyment of, an activity. Results of an experiment show that people spend more time and enjoy more activities they master than activities they do not master, irrespectively of the payoffs. However, people fail to predict these effects and choose activities they enjoy less and want to terminate earlier, if these activities provide higher payoffs. Implications for theory and policy-making are discussed.


Irene Scopelliti and George Loewenstein (2011) ,"The Effects of Mastery on Subjective Utility", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 39, eds. Rohini Ahluwalia, Tanya L. Chartrand, and Rebecca K. Ratner, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 793-794.


Irene Scopelliti, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
George Loewenstein, Carnegie Mellon University, USA


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 39 | 2011

Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More


Pangs from Persuasion: When Recommendations Undermine Consumers’ Social Worth

Suzanne Galia Rath, Queens University, Canada
Laurence Ashworth, Queens University, Canada
Nicole Robitaille, Queens University, Canada

Read More


Intentionally “Biased”: People Purposefully Use To-Be-Ignored Information, But Can Be Persuaded Not To

Berkeley Jay Dietvorst, University of Chicago, USA
Uri Simonsohn, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Read More


O2. The Streaking Star Effect: Why People Want Individual Winning Streaks to Continue More than Group Streaks

Jesse Walker, Cornell University, USA
Thomas Gilovich, Cornell University, USA

Read More

Engage with Us

Becoming an Association for Consumer Research member is simple. Membership in ACR is relatively inexpensive, but brings significant benefits to its members.