Emotions and Health
Mogilner, Cassie, Sep Kamvar and Jennifer Aaker (2010),"The Shifting Meaning of Happiness," Forthcoming in Social Psychological and Personality Science.
An examination of emotions reported on 12 million personal blogs along with a series of surveys and laboratory experiments show that the meaning of happiness is not fixed; instead, it systematically shifts over the course of one’s lifetime. Whereas younger people are more likely to associate happiness with excitement, as they get older, they become more likely to associate happiness with peacefulness. This change appears to be driven by a redirection of attention from the future to the present as people age. The dynamics of what happiness means has broad implications, from purchasing behavior to appropriate ways to increase one’s happiness.
- For more details on our happiness data, see http://www.wefeelfine.org/.
Aaker, Jennifer, Aimee Drolet, and Dale Griffin (2008), "Recalling Mixed Emotions," Journal of Consumer Research, 35 (August), 268-278.
A set of longitudinal experiments, conducted both in the field and lab, we investigate the recollection of mixed emotions. Results demonstrated that the intensity of mixed emotions are generally underestimated at the time of recall—an effect which appears to increase over time and does not occur to the same degree with unipolar emotions. Of note (or interestingly), the decline in memory of mixed emotions is distinct from the pattern found for the memory of negative emotions, implying that the recall bias is diagnostic of the complexity of mixed emotions rather than of any association with negative affect. Finally, the memory decay effect was driven by felt conflict which arises when experiencing mixed (vs. unipolar) emotions. Implications for consumer memory and behavior are discussed.
- Media coverage: Washington Post, Science Daily, Medical.Net, Psychology Today, Asian News International, Hindustan Times
Agrawal, Nidhi, Geeta Menon and Jennifer Aaker (2007), "Getting Emotional about Health," Journal of Marketing Research, 64 (February), 100-113.
In this article, we examine two roles of specific emotions in influencing the effectiveness of health-related messages: as a provider of resources and of information. We theorize that (a) the valence dimension of discrete emotions influences resources, thereby fostering or hindering the processing of aversive health information, whereas (b) the self/other-relatedness dimension of discrete emotions provides information that interacts with the focal referent in the message (self or family) to determine compatibility. In a series of three experiments, we demonstrate that when individuals are primed with a positive emotion (e.g., happiness, peacefulness), the compatibility between the referent and the discrete emotion fosters the processing of health information. When the primed emotion is negative (e.g., sadness, anxiety), however, compatibility hinders processing of the message. In a fourth experiment, we track emotions pre- and post-exposure to a health message to demonstrate that the effect observed in experiments 1 - 3 occurs due to an increase in the negative emotional state in compatible situations while processing disease-related information. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for increasing the effectiveness of health-related messages.
Liu, Wendy and Jennifer Aaker (2007), "Do You Look to the Future or Focus on Today? The Impact of Life Experience on Intertemporal Choice," Organizational Behavior & Human Decision Processes, 102, 212-225.
In this research, we investigate the impact of significant life experiences on intetemporal decisions. Five studies focus specifically on the impact of experiencing the death of a close other by cancer. We show that such an experience is associated with making decisions that favor the long-term future over short-term interests (Studies 1 and 2). Underlying this effect appears to be greater salience regarding one's life course, shifting focus away from the present toward the long run (Studies 3 and 4). Finally, we explore the shift caused by a cancer death of a public figure and examine its stability over time (Study 5). Implications for research on intertemporal decision making and the impact of life events on perceptions and preferences are discussed.
Briley, Donnel A. and Jennifer L. Aaker (2006), "Bridging the Culture Chasm: Ensuring that Consumers are Healthy, Wealthy and Wise," Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 25 (1), 53-66.
The paper pulls together streams of culture-related research found in information processing and behavioral decision theory literatures, and complements them with a focus on motivations and goals. We propose a framework that suggests that (a) the treatment of culture is useful when it incorporates subcultures, including those defined by nationality, ethnicity, religious affiliation, and neighborhood or local surroundings, (b) goals are determined by both cultural background and situational forces, and (c) via its impact on goals, culture influences the inputs utilized in a decision, the types of options preferred and the timing of decisions. Implications of the framework are highlighted for two policy domains, health and savings/spending. We suggest that consumers’ goal orientations can provide a useful segmentation dimension, and carve out specific tendencies that appear to vary across cultural contexts (e.g., satisficing, goal shifting, reactivity). A deeper consideration of consumer goals and the role played by culture in individual decision making can inform policies seeking to improve the quality of consumers’ decisions and ultimately consumer welfare.
Williams, Patti and Jennifer Aaker (2002), "Can Mixed Emotions Peacefully Co-Exist?" Journal of Consumer Research, 28 (March), 636-649.
This research sheds insight on the psychological impact of mixed emotions on attitudes. In three experiments, we show that persuasion appeals that highlight conflicting emotions (e.g., both happiness and sadness) lead to less favorable attitudes for individuals with a lower propensity to accept duality (e.g., Anglo Americans, younger adults) relative to those with a higher propensity (e.g., Asian Americans, older adults). The effect appears to be due to increased levels of felt discomfort that arise for those with a lower, but not higher, propensity to accept duality when exposed to mixed emotional appeals. Theoretical implications regarding boundary conditions of emotional dissonance and distinctions between emotional and cognitive dissonance are discussed.
- Journal of Consumer Research Best Paper award (over 3 years 1st runner up).
Drolet, Aimee and Jennifer Aaker (2002), "Off Target? Changing Cognitive-Based Attitudes," Journal of Consumer Psychology, 12 (1), 59-68.
Researchers argue that the effectiveness of cognitive versus affective persuasive appeals depends in part on whether the appeal is congruent or incongruent with a primarily cognitive or affective attitude base. However, considerable research suggests these persuasion effects may hold only for predominantly effective attitudes and not cognitive attitudes. Indeed, results of Experiment 1 show that the relative effectiveness of congruent relative to incongruent persuasion appeals holds for brands with predominantly affective associations, but not those with predominately cognitive associations. Experiment 2 explores one reason for this anomalous finding: Cognitive attitudes may be relatively impervious to persuasive appeals because the probability of targeting the specific attribute on which the cognitive attitude is based is smaller. The results are supportive, showing that significant persuasion effects are found when the specific beliefs on which cognitive attitudes are based are taken into account. However, these effects only occur under conditions of low cognitive load and not high cognitive lad where resources for the cognitive processing of the appeals are limited. We discuss the implications of the research for the role of attitude structure is understanding persuasion effects and the interplay of affective and cognitive elements in persuasion processes.
Aaker, Jennifer (2000), "Accessibility or Diagnosticity? Disentangling the Influence of Culture on Persuasion Processes and Attitudes," Journal of Consumer Research, 26 (March), 340-357.
This research explores the extent to which differences in perceived diagnosticity as compared with differences in the accessibility of associations embedded in persuasion appeals better account for the attitudinal differences found in the culture and persuasion literature. Experiment 1 replicates basic findings showing that high culture-distinct associations lead to more favorable attitudes for individuals in the target culture relative to a nontarget culture, while low culture-distinct associations lead to more attitudinal similarities across cultural boundaries. Experiments 2 and 3 explore two potential explanations for these effects. Convergent evidence, provided through within-culture and across-culture mediation analysis, is more supportive of the differential accessibility explanation. That is, high culture-distinct associations may be valued in the nontarget culture but are relatively inaccessible in memory at an individual level. The results of these experiments help to reconcile conflicting findings in the consumer psychology literature, shed insight on why cultural differences might occur, and add to the growing body of research that identifies conditions under which cultural similarities in persuasion processes and effects may be found.
Aaker, Jennifer, Anne Brumbaugh and Sonya Grier (2000), "Non-Target Markets and Viewer Distinctiveness: The Impact of Target Marketing on Processing and Attitudes," Journal of Consumer Psychology, 9 (3), 127-140.
This research examines the effect of target marketing on members of the advertiser's intended audience as well as members not in the target market: the nontarget market. The results of 3 experiments show that unfavorable nontarget market effects are stronger for members of nondistinctive groups (e.g., Caucasian individuals, heterosexual individuals) and favorable target market effects are stronger for members of distinctive groups (e.g., African American individuals, homosexual individuals). The results of Experiment 2 demonstrate that the psychological processes by which target and nontarget market effects occur differ by viewer group: Felt similarity with sources in an advertisement drives target market effects for distinctive viewers, whereas felt targetedness drives target market effects for nondistinctive viewers. Finally, Experiment 3 shows that these consumer feelings of similarity or targetedness are associated with underlying processes of identification and internalization. Theoretical implications regarding the impact of distinctiveness theory in consumer persuasion effects and potential social effects of target marketing are discussed.
Aaker, Jennifer and Patti Williams (1998), "Empathy versus Pride: The Influence of Emotional Appeals across Cultures," Journal of Consumer Research, 25 (December), 241-261.
This research examines the persuasive effect of emotional appeals on members of collectivist versus individualist cultures. The results of two experiments demonstrate that ego-focused (e.g., pride, happiness) versus other-focused (e.g., empathy, peacefulness) emotional appeals had to more favorable attitudes for members of a collectivist culture, while other-focused versus ego-focused emotional appeals lead to more favorable attitudes for members of an individualist culture. Experiment 2 was conducted to examine the psychological mechanism underlying these effects. The results indicated that the generation of and elaboration on a relatively novel type of thought (individual thoughts for members of a collectivist culture, collective thoughts for members of an individualist culture) account for the persuasive effects found in this research. These results are interpreted within an ability-motivation framework, and theoretical implications involving cross-cultural persuasion effects are discussed.
Aaker, Jennifer (1997), "Dimensions of Brand Personality," Journal of Marketing Research, 34 (August), 347-357. Reprinted in a book of readings, in Decisions Marketing, April 1999, and Journal of Brand Management, June 2001.
Although a considerable amount of research in personality psychology has been done to conceptualize human personality, identify the "Big Five" dimensions, and explore the meaning of each dimension, no parallel research has been conducted in consumer behavior on brand personality. Consequently, an understanding of the symbolic use of brands has been limited in the consumer behavior literature. In this research, the author develops a theoretical framework of the brand personality construct by determining the number and nature of dimensions of brand personality (Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication, and Ruggedness). To measure the five brand personality dimensions, a reliable, valid, and generalizable measurement scale is created. Finally, theoretical and practical implications regarding the symbolic use of brands are discussed.