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Helpful Hopefulness: The Effect of Future Positive Emotions on Consumption

  • Karen Page Winterich
  • Kelly L. Haws
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    Although positive affect may enhance self-control, some research suggests that this is not always the case. To clarify this relationship, we investigate the role of temporal focus on the effect of specific positive emotions on self-control dilemmas in snack consumption. In four studies, we demonstrate that participants experiencing a future-focused positive emotion (i.e., hopefulness) consume less unhealthy food and have lower preferences for unhealthy snacks than those in a past- or present-focused emotional state (i.e., pride, happiness). We demonstrate the role of temporal focus through its natural occurrence in emotion-induction essays (study 1), chronic temporal focus (study 2), and manipulation of anticipated versus retrospective emotional states (study 3). A fourth study demonstrates that self-control benefits do not arise from future-focused negative emotions (i.e., fear) as they do from future-focused positive emotions. These results suggest that consumers may benefit from adapting the temporal focus of positive emotions to the future.

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    Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Journal of Consumer Research.

    Volume (Year): 38 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 505 - 524

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jconrs:doi:10.1086/659873
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