Altering the past to influence the future: the effect of mental unpacking on past evaluations and future preferences
- 392 Downloads
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.
KeywordsMemory distortion Extended experiences Support theory Mental unpacking
- Cowley, E. (2006). Reconstructing memory for evaluations: the role of past feelings, past behaviour, and post-experience information. Review of Psychology, 51, 481–537.Google Scholar
- Gatrell, C. (2009). The present location of temporal embeddedness: the case of time linked consumption practices in dual career families. Advances in Consumer Research, 36.Google Scholar
- Keller, L. R. and Burman, B. (2008). Making probability judgments of future product failures: packing versus unpacking the problem. Advances in Consumer Research, 35Google Scholar
- Loewenstein, G. and Sicherman, N. (1991). Do workers prefer increasing wage profiles? Journal of Labor Economics, 67–84.Google Scholar