DERIVING HAPPINESS FROM CONSUMPTION: TOWARDS AN UNDERSTANDING OF ENJOYMENT IN CONSUMER CONSUMPTION
Ratner, Rebecca K
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This dissertation includes three essays that investigate factors that influence how much enjoyment consumers derive from their various daily consumption. The first essay examines whether and when shared experiences are more or less enjoyable than solo experiences. Whereas prior research has primarily focused on the social benefits of having an activity partner in leisure activities, we propose that sharing experiences requires coordination with others, which can take the consumer’s attention away from the consumption activity, potentially reducing their enjoyment of the activity compared to those who engage in the experience solo. We demonstrate that lack of clarity about a partner’s level of interests in the activity can make it difficult for consumers to coordinate and focus on a shared activity, and ultimately enjoy the experience, relative to solo experiences or shared experiences for which clarity is high. The second essay speaks to consumers’ inhibition that prevents them from deriving happiness from rewarding solitary leisure experiences. Prior research shows that consumers are inhibited from engaging in public leisure activities alone because of negative evaluations on social connectedness they anticipate from others. This essay examines how people actually evaluate consumers who engage in these activities solo versus accompanied. We demonstrate that though observers indeed perceive solo (vs. accompanied) consumers to be less socially connected, observers also make more positive inferences for solo consumers on the trait of openness, and overall view solo consumers as favorably as accompanied consumers. The third essay examines the effect of ownership status (i.e., whether a consumer owns the product or not) on consumers’ adaptation to a product. We demonstrate that consuming a product for which consumers do not have ownership (vs. have ownership) prolongs happiness derived from the product. We propose that when consumers do not have ownership of a product, they experience an elevated arousal, which could help to slow down the otherwise natural process of hedonic adaptation.