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Journal Article

Consuming Experiential Categories

Anuj K. Shah and Adam L. Alter
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 41, No. 4 (December 2014), pp. 965-977
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/677893
Stable URL:
Page Count: 13

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Consuming Experiential Categories
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How do we maximize enjoyment and minimize displeasure over a variety of events? Previous research has discussed how consumers might focus on savoring individual events or distribute appealing and unappealing events across time to maximize happiness. Building on this work, the current research shows that consumers track not just individual events but also “categories” of events. Consequently, a person who visits a modern art gallery, a classic art gallery, the opera, and a symphony concert could either construe these as four distinct experiences or as two categories of experiences (art galleries and musical performances). Consumers seem to naturally consider experiential categories. For positive experiences, consumers are reluctant to choose in a way that eliminates categories, but the opposite is true for negative experiences. People may do this because eliminating categories leads to a greater subjective feeling of making progress in a hedonic experience.

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