Feeling Good and Doing Better: How Specific Positive Emotions Influence Consumer Behavior and Well-being

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Marketers seek to create and consumers seek to cultivate a variety of positive emotional experiences. Despite their importance to consumer behavior, researchers have lacked a clear understanding of the distinct behavioral consequences of specific positive emotions. My dissertation examines how different positive emotions (e.g., hope, love, and pride) can differentially affect consumers' decisions and behaviors. I find that positive emotions can not only be differentiated but also that specific positive emotions lead to distinctly different patterns of consumption behavior, such as considering more options, donating in different ways, engaging in more effortful actions, or performing more socially conscious consumption behaviors benefiting distant others. I find important differences both with momentary emotional experiences and downstream consequences of chronic emotional experiences.

Positive emotions differ reliably in the degree to which they create a lens of problem-solving, social connection, and perceived control. For example, I find that positive emotions characterized by a social connection lens (e.g., love and gratitude) lead to increases in socially conscious behaviors benefiting distant others. The tendency to perceive one's environment through a problem-solving lens (which characterizes hope and interest but not love and gratitude) leads to larger consideration sets and engagement in more effortful environmental actions. I also examine how positive emotions characterized by different lenses, such as perceived control (e.g., pride) and social connection (e.g., love), produce distinct behaviors within the same consumption context (e.g., giving in different ways in response to a fundraising appeal). Five studies demonstrate that positive emotions can be characterized in ways that allow prediction of distinct forms of broadening and specific consumption behaviors.





Cavanaugh, Lisa Ann (2009). Feeling Good and Doing Better: How Specific Positive Emotions Influence Consumer Behavior and Well-being. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/1183.


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