Brief Reports

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 96-98

First online:

Evaluations of pleasurable experiences: The peak-end rule

  • Amy M. DoAffiliated withDartmouth College
  • , Alexander V. RupertAffiliated withDartmouth College
  • , George WolfordAffiliated withDartmouth College Email author 


Prior research suggests that the addition of mild pain to an aversive event may lead people to prefer and directly choose more pain over less pain (Kahneman, Fredrickson, Schreiber, & Redelmeier, 1993). Kahneman et al. suggest that pain ratings are based on a combination of peak pain and final pain. Similarly, people rate a happy life that ends suddenly as being better than one with additional years of mild happiness (Diener, Wirtz, & Oishi, 2001), even though the former objectively consists of less pleasure than the latter. Applying these concepts to material goods, we investigated the impact of positivity and timing on the retrospective evaluations of material goods. We found strong evidence that the peak-end rule applies to both material goods and pain.