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The Social Context of Temporal Sequences: Why First Impressions Shape Shared Experiences

Rajesh Bhargave and Nicole Votolato Montgomery
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 40, No. 3 (October 2013), pp. 501-517
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/671053
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/671053
Page Count: 17
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The Social Context of Temporal Sequences: Why First Impressions Shape Shared Experiences
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Abstract

Many hedonic experiences consist of a temporal sequence of episodes, such as viewing a series of paintings in an art gallery. These events may be shared with others (joint context) or experienced alone (solo context). However, past research has mostly studied solo contexts, finding that consumers evaluate experiences with an improving trend more positively than those with a declining trend, due to a recency effect in memory-based evaluations. The present research investigates the moderating role of social context on global evaluations of experiences. Participants instructed to undergo hedonic experiences presented as an improving or declining trend replicated the greater evaluation of improving sequences in solo contexts, but demonstrated an attenuation of this preference in joint contexts. These differences occur because joint experiences trigger a more holistic (less analytic) processing style, contributing to primacy-based assimilation, in which evaluations of later episodes assimilate to first impressions (i.e., evaluations of the start).

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