Marketing Letters

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 499–510 | Cite as

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

  • Sonia Vilches-MonteroEmail author


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.


Memory distortion Extended experiences Support theory Mental unpacking 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia

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