Lay Theories of Emotion Transience and the Search for Happiness: A Fresh Perspective on Affect Regulation
Across six studies, we demonstrate that consumers have beliefs pertaining to the transience of emotion, which, along with their current feelings, determine the extent to which they regulate their immediate affect. If consumers believe that emotion is fleeting, those feeling happy (vs. unhappy) engage in affect regulation because they infer that they need to take actions to maintain their positive feelings. In contrast, if consumers believe that emotion is lasting, those feeling unhappy (vs. happy) engage in affect regulation because they infer that the negative feelings will persist unless they take actions to repair them. These effects are obtained with measured and with manipulated beliefs, and they occur only when the theories pertain specifically to emotion. Implications and areas for future research are discussed.
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