When Bittersweet is as Good as Sweet: How Emotion Norms Shape Consumption Choices
Though societally-held norms about emotion are an ever-present factor that guide and shape our emotional experiences, little research has examined how these norms might influence our consumption behaviors. In my dissertation, I begin to bridge that gap by examining how emotion norms might encourage individuals to make certain consumption choices in an attempt to achieve or avoid specific emotional states. In particular, I focus specifically on the emotion norm associated with the experience of feeling ashamed to explore how emotion norms can lead us to make some rather unexpected choices. Across a series of studies, I find that the emotion norm associated with shame attenuates consumers' basic hedonic impulses and increases their preference for products that elicit mixed emotions. Importantly, I find that this occurs despite our natural preference for feeling positively and despite the fact that feeling mixed emotions is psychologically uncomfortable and aversive. Taken together, this work extends the existing research on motivated emotion, mixed emotions and emotion norms in (1) suggesting a novel reason for why individuals might seek out one emotional state over another (2) providing an explanation for why mixed emotions-eliciting products might succeed in the marketplace (3) demonstrating that not all negative emotions lead to mood repair behavior and (4) examining how emotion norms as fundamental social structures influence consumption behavior.
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