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

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.


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.


Michal Herzenstein, University of Delaware, USA
Meryl Gardner, University of Delaware, USA


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36 | 2009

Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More


If No One Saw It on Instagram, Was It Any Good? Examining Received Attention as a Social Benefit of Experiential Consumption

Matthew J Hall, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Jamie D. Hyodo, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Read More


R5. Autonomy or Enjoyment? The Contingent Nature of Brand Ritual

Yaxuan Ran, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law
Echo Wen Wan, University of Hong Kong

Read More


Is Warm Always Trusting? The Effect of Seasonality on Trustworthiness

Gretchen Wilroy, Pennsylvania State University, USA
Margaret Meloy, Pennsylvania State University, USA
Simon Blanchard, Georgetown 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.