Experimental Social Science Laboratory (Xlab)
On the Consumption of Negative Feelings
- Author(s): Andrade, Eduardo B.
- Cohen, Joel B.
- et al.
How can the hedonistic assumption (i.e., people's willingness to pursue pleasure and avoid pain) be reconciled with people choosing to expose themselves to experiences known to elicit negative feelings? We assess how (1) the intensity of the negative feelings, (2) positive feelings in the aftermath, and (3) the coactivation of positive and negative feelings contribute to our understanding of such behavior. In a series of 4 studies, consumers with either approach or avoidance tendencies (toward horror movies) were asked to report their positive and/or negative feelings either after (experiment 1) or while (experiments 2, 3A, and 3B) they were exposed to a horror movie. We demonstrate how a model incorporating coactivation principles and enriched with a protective frame moderator (via detachment) can provide a more parsimonious and viable description of the affective reactions that result from counter-hedonic behavior.