IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Altering the past to influence the future: the effect of mental unpacking on past evaluations and future preferences


  • Sonia Vilches-Montero

    () (The University of Newcastle)


Abstract Consumers use affective evaluations of past hedonic experiences in their future decision-making. However, past evaluations such as how enjoyable the experience was may be hard to retrieve, and consumers tend to recall what they did (i.e. the constituent activities of the prior experience) in order to reconstruct them. It is proposed here that recalling these constituent activities in a packed versus unpacked fashion will distort both the reconstruction process and its outcome. Results from two experiments show that mental unpacking interacted with experience enjoyment to alter past evaluations in two ways: if the enjoyment of the experience was high, unpacked recalls increased remembered enjoyment, but unpacking decreased remembered enjoyment if the experience enjoyment was low. Finally, mediation analysis indicated that the unpacking by enjoyment interaction distorted future preferences through the mediating role of remembered enjoyment.

Suggested Citation

  • Sonia Vilches-Montero, 2016. "Altering the past to influence the future: the effect of mental unpacking on past evaluations and future preferences," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 499-510, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:mktlet:v:27:y:2016:i:3:d:10.1007_s11002-015-9367-9
    DOI: 10.1007/s11002-015-9367-9

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kapil Bawa, 1990. "Modeling Inertia and Variety Seeking Tendencies in Brand Choice Behavior," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 9(3), pages 263-278.
    2. Sarah G. Moore, 2012. "Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid: How Word of Mouth Influences the Storyteller," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(6), pages 1140-1154.
    3. Loewenstein, George F & Sicherman, Nachum, 1991. "Do Workers Prefer Increasing Wage Profiles?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 67-84, January.
    4. Cowley, Elizabeth, 2014. "Consumers telling consumption stories: Word-of-mouth and retrospective evaluations," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 67(7), pages 1522-1529.
    5. Claire I. Tsai & Min Zhao, 2011. "Predicting Consumption Time: The Role of Event Valence and Unpacking," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(3), pages 459-473.
    6. Frank May & Caglar Irmak, 2014. "Licensing Indulgence in the Present by Distorting Memories of Past Behavior," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(3), pages 624-641.
    7. Gaby A. C. Schellekens & Peeter W. J. Verlegh & Ale Smidts, 2010. "Language Abstraction in Word of Mouth," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(2), pages 207-223, August.
    8. Elizabeth Cowley, 2007. "How Enjoyable Was It? Remembering an Affective Reaction to a Previous Consumption Experience," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(4), pages 494-505, July.
    9. Cristel Antonia Russell & Sidney J. Levy, 2012. "The Temporal and Focal Dynamics of Volitional Reconsumption: A Phenomenological Investigation of Repeated Hedonic Experiences," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(2), pages 341-359.
    10. Frank Germann & Rajdeep Grewal & William Ross & Rajendra Srivastava, 2014. "Product recalls and the moderating role of brand commitment," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 179-191, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:joreco:v:40:y:2018:i:c:p:82-90 is not listed on IDEAS


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:mktlet:v:27:y:2016:i:3:d:10.1007_s11002-015-9367-9. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.