ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

The present research provides the first evidence that temporarily giving up something pleasurable may provide an effective route to happiness. Participants were asked to eat a piece of chocolate during two lab sessions, held 1week apart. During the intervening week, we randomly assigned them to abstain from chocolate or to eat as much of it as possible, while a control group received no special instructions related to their chocolate consumption. At the second lab session, participants who had temporarily given up chocolate savored it significantly more and experienced more positive moods after eating it, compared to those in either of the other two conditions. Many cultural and religious practices entail temporarily giving up something pleasurable, and our research suggests that such self-denial may carry ironic benefits for well-being by combating hedonic adaptation.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Give It Up: A Strategy for Combating
Hedonic Adaptation
Jordi Quoidbach
and Elizabeth W. Dunn
The present research provides the first evidence that temporarily giving up something pleasurable may provide an effective route
to happiness. Participants were asked to eat a piece of chocolate during two lab sessions, held 1week apart. During the intervening
week, we randomly assigned them to abstain from chocolate or to eat as much of it as possible, while a control group received no
special instructions related to their chocolate consumption. At the second lab session, participants who had temporarily given up
chocolate savored it significantly more and experienced more positive moods after eating it, compared to those in either of the
other two conditions. Many cultural and religious practices entail temporarily giving up something pleasurable, and our research
suggests that such self-denial may carry ironic benefits for well-being by combating hedonic adaptation.
hedonic adaptation, savoring, happiness, positive emotion regulation
In modern Western society, many people enjoy a level of mate-
rial abundance that would have been unimaginable throughout
most of human history. But such material wealth often fails to
provide as much happiness as people expect (Aknin, Norton, &
Dunn, 2009). A recent study of almost half a million Americans
found that people with higher household incomes experienced
more positive moods on a day-to-day basis, but these emotional
benefits tapered off entirely for annual incomes over about
$75,000 (Kahneman & Deaton, 2010). Wealth may fail to
result in lasting happiness in part because of hedonic adapta-
tion, whereby we quickly grow accustomed to the pleasurable
things in our lives—from fancy cars to fine dining and travel—
reducing their impact on our long-term well-being (Frederick
& Loewenstein, 1999; Lyubomirsky, 2011; Wilson & Gilbert,
2008). Having unlimited access to such pleasures may make
individuals less likely to savor them, facilitating hedonic
adaptation. Providing indirect evidence for this idea, recent
research found that wealthier individuals are less inclined to
savor the little pleasures of daily life (Quoidbach, Dunn, Pet-
rides, & Mikoloajczak, 2010). In a society of abundance, then,
we propose that restricting access to pleasurable things may
provide a route to increased happiness, combating hedonic
adaptation by fostering individuals’ proclivity to savor.
Indirect support for the idea that scarcity promotes savoring
comes from a study examining college students on the brink of
graduation (Kurtz, 2008). Through a writing exercise, students
at the University of Virginia were led to feel that they either
had very little time left or they had plenty of time left before
graduation; participants in a control group simply wrote about
a typical weekday. Compared to students in the other two
groups, those who felt they had little time left were more
inclined to make the most of this time by taking pictures,
feeling grateful for their university, making plans with friends,
and engaging in other college-related activities. Over the
course of 2 weeks, students in this group exhibited a significant
increase in happiness relative to both control participants and
those led to feel that they had an abundant amount of time left.
While this experiment only manipulated participants’
perceived access to the joys of college life, the findings offer
suggestive evidence for the broader argument that scarcity may
provide a better route to happiness than does abundance.
If this is the case, then temporarily giving up something
enjoyable may counter hedonic adaptation by renewing the
capacity to appreciate it, enhancing happiness. Although no
studies have examined the effects of temporary deprivation
on subsequent savoring and happiness, research on satiation
is consistent with our argument. In particular, recent work
shows that people evaluate an enjoyable ongoing stimulus
more positively when their experience with the stimulus is
interrupted rather than continuous (Galak, Kruger, & Loewen-
stein, 2012; Nelson & Meyvis, 2008; Nelson, Meyvis, & Galak,
2009). For example, participants in one study rated a 3-min
massage more favorably and were willing to pay more to repeat
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
University of Lie
`ge, Lie
`ge, Belgium
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Corresponding Author:
Jordi Quoidbach, Harvard University, William James Hall, 33 Kirkland Street,
Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Social Psychological and
Personality Science
00(0) 1-6
ªThe Author(s) 2013
Reprints and permission:
DOI: 10.1177/1948550612473489
at Harvard Libraries on February 11, 2013spp.sagepub.comDownloaded from
it when the massage was interrupted by a 20-s break in the
middle (Nelson & Meyvis, 2008). In another study, participants
evaluated an episode of the sitcom Taxi more positively when
it was broken up by commercials rather than viewed continu-
ously, suggesting that brief interruptions can enhance the
pleasure of a positive experience (Nelson et al., 2009).
Building on this work, we propose that restricting access to
everyday pleasures may promote the tendency to savor them.
Savoring is a form of emotion regulation that entails maintain-
ing and increasing the positive affect (PA) derived from an
enjoyable experience (e.g., Bryant, Chadwick, & Kluewe,
2011; Bryant & Veroff, 2007). Although savoring has been
conceptualized and measured in a variety of ways, the most
comprehensive definition of savoring includes four key compo-
nents (Ne´lis, Quoidbach, Hansenne, & Mikolajczak, 2011;
Quoidbach, Berry, Hansenne, & Mikolajczak, 2010; Tugade
& Fredrickson, 2007): (1) staying present in the moment during
the experience, (2) anticipating or reminiscing about the experi-
ence, (3) telling others about it, and (4) displaying positive
emotions nonverbally. Highlighting the value of such positive
emotion regulation, research shows that savoring is consistently
linked with greater happiness (Bryant, 2003; Quoidbach, Berry,
et al., 2010). In particular, the use of savoring strategies has been
found to both mediate and magnify the impact of daily positive
events on momentary happy mood (Jose, Lim, & Bryant, 2012).
Therefore, to the extent that scarcity promotes savoring,
abundance may undermine happiness. That is, people may
derive a larger mood boost from consuming something if they
have had limited, rather than abundant, access to it in the recent
past. To test this hypothesis, we asked participants to eat a
piece of chocolate during two lab sessions, 1 week apart. Dur-
ing the intervening week, we randomly assigned them to
abstain from chocolate or to eat as much of it as possible, while
a control group received no special instructions related to their
chocolate consumption. We predicted that people who gave up
chocolate would be more likely to savor it subsequently,
leading them to experience more positive moods, compared
to participants in either of the other two groups.
A total of 55 undergraduates at the University of British
Columbia (80%women; M
¼19.4, SD ¼1.5) completed
both sessions of this experiment, which took place exactly 1
week apart.
When participants signed up, the experiment was
explicitly described as a study on eating chocolate (presumably
enabling people who disliked chocolate or were dieting to
avoid this study).
During the first lab visit (Time 1), participants completed
consent forms and an initial questionnaire that included a mea-
sure of dispositional happiness and demographic items. They
were then randomly assigned to one of the three conditions.
In the restricted access (N¼16) condition, participants were
instructed not to eat any chocolate for a week, until they
returned to the lab. In the abundant access condition
(N¼18), the experimenter gave participants approximately 2
pounds of chocolate (one large bar per day) with the instruction
to eat as much as they comfortably could over the course of the
week. In the control condition (N¼21), participants did not
receive any specific instructions related to their chocolate con-
sumption. All participants were then asked to taste a piece of
chocolate before completing measures of savoring and PA.
Exactly 1 week later (Time 2), participants came back to the
lab, tasted the piece of chocolate a second time, and completed
the same measures of savoring and PA used at Time 1, as well
as reporting how many days they had eaten chocolate during
the week between lab sessions.
Dispositional Happiness. To assess whether participants saw
themselves as happy people, we used the well-validated
Subjective Happiness scale (Lyubomirsky & Lepper, 1999),
which includes four 7-point items (a
¼.89; a
Positive Affect. In both lab sessions, we measured PA using the
PA scale from the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule
(PANAS; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988) Specifically,
participants rated 10 mood-related adjectives (e.g., enthusias-
tic) on a scale of 1 (very slightly or not at all) to 5 (extremely)
for how well each adjective described their current mood
¼.88; a
¼.90). We selected the PANAS as a
mood measure because it has been validated to capture transi-
ent moods (Watson et al., 1988) and has been previously asso-
ciated with dispositional savoring (Quoidbach et al., 2010).
Savoring. Our savoring measure was designed to capture the
four main facets of savoring described in the Introduction.
On scales from 1 (not at all)to7(agreatdeal), participants
reported to what extent they had tried to mindfully pay atten-
tion to the chocolate’s taste and texture while eating (staying
present), (2) were looking forward to eating this chocolate in
the future (positive mental time travel), and (3) were planning
to tell a friend about the chocolate (telling others). In order to
measure the behavioral display component of savoring, the
experimenter (a research assistant who was blind to the study
hypotheses) surreptitiously observed each participant eating
the chocolate and rated how much enjoyment participants
displayed, on a scale from 1 (not at all)to7(agreatdeal). These
4 items were averaged into a total savoring score (a
Manipulation Check
To test whether our manipulation successfully influenced how
often participants ate chocolate during the week between lab
visits, we entered experimental condition into an analysis of
2Social Psychological and Personality Science 00(0)
at Harvard Libraries on February 11, 2013spp.sagepub.comDownloaded from
variance predicting the number of days on which they reported
eating chocolate. There were large between-group differences
on this manipulation check, F(1, 52) ¼107.42, p< .001, Z
.81, with those in the restricted access condition eating
chocolate on fewer days (M¼.19, SD ¼.40) than those in the
control condition (M¼3.35, SD ¼1.50) and the abundant access
condition, (M¼6.1, SD ¼1.27). Pairwise comparisons using
least significant difference tests showed that each condition
differed significantly from each of the other two, all ps<.001.
Positive Affect
Preliminary analyses revealed that there were no between-group
differences in participants’ Time 1 PA, F(2, 52) ¼.05, p¼.95,
or dispositional happiness, F(2, 52) ¼1.23, p¼.30. Thus,
because there are substantial individual differences in typical
happiness levels (e.g., Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, & Schkade,
2005), we entered Time 1 PA and dispositional happiness as
control variables in an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) pre-
dicting Time 2 PA from experimental condition. As expected,
there were significant between-group differences in Time 2
PA after eating the chocolate, F(2,50) ¼3.21, p¼.05, Z
.11. Pairwise comparisons showed that participants in the
restricted access group reported significantly higher Time 2
PA (M¼3.07, SD ¼.83) than participants in the abundant
access group (M¼2.56, SD ¼.79), p¼.03, or the control group
(M¼2.64, SD ¼.75), p¼.03; the abundant access group and
the control group did not differ from each other, p¼.98.
In addition, t-tests confirmed that participants in the abun-
dant access group exhibited a significant decline in PA after eat-
ing chocolate (M¼".38, SD ¼.71) from Time 1 to Time 2,
t(17) ¼2.28, p¼.04, while those in the control group showed
a marginal decrease (M¼".35, SD ¼.91), t(20) ¼1.75, p¼
.10, and those in the restricted access group exhibited a nonsigni-
ficant increase (M¼.15, SD ¼.70), t(15) ¼.86, p¼.41.
There were no Time 1 differences in savoring, F(2, 52) ¼0.73,
p¼.49. Thus, we conducted an ANCOVA predicting Time 2
savoring scores from condition, controlling for Time 1 savor-
ing. This analysis revealed significant between-group differ-
ences in Time 2 savoring, F(2, 51) ¼6.63, p¼.003,
¼.21. Pairwise comparisons showed that participants in
the restricted access condition savored the chocolate
(M¼5.08, SD ¼.94) more than those in the abundant access
condition (M¼4.03, SD ¼1.10), p¼.001, or control condition
(M¼4.31, SD ¼.86), p¼.006, whereas participants in the
latter two groups did not differ from each other, p¼.49.
In addition, t-tests showed that participants in the abundant
access condition exhibited a significant decrease in savoring
(M¼".85, SD ¼1.21) from Time 1 to Time 2, t(17) ¼
2.96, p¼.009, as did controls (M¼".75, SD ¼.84), t(20)
¼4.12, p¼.001, whereas those in the restricted access group
exhibited a nonsignificant increase in savoring (M¼.33, SD ¼
1.07), t(15) ¼1.24, p¼.23.
Our results suggest that participants were more likely to savor
chocolate after having restricted (vs. abundant) access to it,
thereby promoting positive emotions. To test this hypothesis,
we examined whether the effect of being in the restricted access
condition versus the abundant access condition on PA at Time
2 was mediated by savoring. For consistency with our preced-
ing analyses, we entered our Time 1 measures of PA, savoring,
and dispositional happiness as covariates in the mediation anal-
yses; this approach is consistent with Baron and Kenny’s
(1986) recommendation to obtain and control for prior mea-
sures of mediator and dependent variables, thereby increasing
the internal validity of mediation analyses (note that running
the analyses without these covariates does not substantively
alter the results).
As depicted in Figure 1, when Time 2 savoring was included
along with group condition (coded as restricted access ¼þ1,
abundant access ¼"1) in a regression predicting Time 2
PA, the relationship between experimental condition and PA
became weaker, suggesting mediation. To test the significance
of the indirect effect (i.e., the path through the mediator), we
used a bootstrapping procedure, as recommended by Shrout
and Bolger (2002). Bootstrapping involves the repeated extrac-
tion of samples from the data set and the estimation of the indi-
rect effects in each resampled data set. The totality of all the
estimated indirect effects allows the construction of a 95%
confidence interval (CI) for the effect size of each indirect
effect. The indirect effect is significant at p< .05 if the 95%CIs
do not include 0. In line with recommendations by Preacher
and Hayes (2008), we performed bootstrapping with 5,000
resamples and 95%bias-corrected and accelerated CIs. The
results demonstrated that 0 was not included in the 95%CI for
the indirect effect (CI low ¼.06; CI high ¼.37). Thus, parti-
cipants in the restricted access condition experienced more
PA after eating a piece of chocolate than participants who had
abundant access to chocolate, and this effect was statistically
explained by their greater propensity to savor their experience
The present experiment provides the first evidence that tempo-
rarily giving up something pleasurable may provide an effec-
tive route to happiness. Participants savored a piece of
chocolate significantly more and derived more PA from eating
it if they had given up chocolate for a week (restricted access
condition) rather than receiving an abundant supply of it (abun-
dant access condition) or maintaining their usual chocolate
consumption habits (control condition). When participants ate
a piece of chocolate in the second lab session, those in the
abundant access and control conditions savored it less than they
had a week earlier, when they had first been asked to eat
chocolate in the lab. Likewise, people in the abundant access
condition exhibited a significant drop in the PA they experi-
enced after eating chocolate in the lab from 1 week to the next,
while those in the control condition exhibited a trend in the
Quoidbach and Dunn 3
at Harvard Libraries on February 11, 2013spp.sagepub.comDownloaded from
same direction. These simple findings depict a powerful barrier
to human happiness: the appreciation and delight we derive
from a positive experience may quickly fade when that experi-
ence is repeated. Our results suggest, however, that this slow
slide toward disenchantment may be disrupted by temporarily
giving up something we like; participants in the restricted
access condition savored chocolate and experienced just as
much pleasure from it during the second tasting as they had
during the first, defying the typical pattern of hedonic adapta-
tion (e.g., Frederick & Loewenstein, 1999).
Researchers have been interested in hedonic adaptation for
decades, but Sheldon and Lyubomirsky (2012) recently pointed
out that most work has focused on negative events, leaving the
processes that underlie adaptation to positive experiences
relatively unexplored. The present work provides empirical
evidence that savoring may represent an important mechanism
in understanding when and why people adapt to positive
experiences. That is, a positive experience—such as getting
course credit for eating chocolate—may provide reduced
happiness when it is repeated because we are less likely to
upregulate our positive emotions.
Although the observed differences were starkest between
people who were asked to abstain from chocolate and those
who were given an abundant supply of it, individuals in our
control condition exhibited a pattern of responses that was very
similar to participants in the abundant access condition. This
convergence presumably stems from the fact that chocolate is
abundantly available in our society, leaving those in the control
condition with easy access to chocolate. While most university
students can easily afford chocolate, wealthier individuals may
see life more broadly as a kind of candy store, in which a wide
range of pleasures are readily available for purchase. Ironically,
such abundance may undermine appreciation, reducing the
positive emotions that enjoyable experiences provide and
helping to account for the surprisingly weak relationship
between wealth and happiness (Quoidbach et al., 2010).
The present research points to a simple intervention that can
reduce the detrimental effects of such abundance: By choosing
to give something up temporarily, people may restore their
capacity to enjoy it. Because frequently indulging in common
forms of pleasure may also come at a cost to our wallets or our
waistlines, giving up something enjoyable may be particularly
worthwhile for this class of pleasures, considering the other
benefits of reduced consumption. It is worth noting, however,
that there was an elevated drop-out rate in the restricted access
condition, raising the possibility that ‘‘give it up’’ interventions
might require some self-control, and might therefore be better
suited for some individuals than others. This idea aligns well
with recent theorizing, which emphasizes that happiness inter-
ventions are not ‘‘one-size-fits-all’’ and need to be well
matched with an individual’s personal characteristics (Lyubo-
mirsky, Sheldon, & Schkade, 2005; Sheldon & Lyubomirsky,
Future research should also determine whether simply
perceiving oneself as relatively deprived might enhance savor-
ing. Recent research shows that increasing individuals’ subjec-
tive sense of the time elapsed since they last consumed their
favorite food can increase their desire to consume it (Redden
& Galak, in press). From a theoretical perspective,this work pro-
vides evidence that perceptions of past consumption may matter
more than actual consumption in shaping current desires. In
daily life, however, the most straightforward way to alter percep-
tions of past consumption may be to change actual consumption,
supporting the value of ‘‘give it up’’ interventions.
Indeed, many cultural and religious practices—from New
Year’s resolutions to the Catholic observation of Lent—
involve reducing consumption of something pleasurable.
Although these practices are typically associated with
self-denial, the present research provides intriguing evidence
that temporarily giving up something pleasurable may provide
a more productive route to happiness than consistently indul-
ging in pleasure, highlighting the ironic benefits of asceticism.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to
the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
β = .50** β = .48**
(β = .09)
(vs. Unlimited)
Positive Affect
β = .32*
Figure 1. Results of regression analyses showing that savoring mediates the effect of experimental condition (restricted access ¼þ1, abundant
access ¼"1) on positive affect. Asterisks indicate coefficients significantly different from 0. *p< .05. **p< .01.
4Social Psychological and Personality Science 00(0)
at Harvard Libraries on February 11, 2013spp.sagepub.comDownloaded from
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for
the research and/or authorship of this article: The French Community
of Belgium and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of
1. An additional nine participants (seven of whom were in the
restricted access condition) signed up for the first session of this
study but failed to return for the second session. Participants may
not have shown up for the second session because they failed to
follow the experimental instructions during the week between
sessions, or because the second session did not fit in their sche-
dules. There were no significant differences between participants
who dropped out of the study and those who did not on any of the
study variables at Time 1 across conditions (all ts < 1.16), and
within the restricted access group only (all ts<1.51).Bootstrap-
ping procedures yielded similar results (all 95%CI included 0).
2. We also included several additional measures of related
constructs (e.g., implicit affect) on an exploratory basis in the
questionnaires. Although these measures were not the focus of
the present work, these tertiary results are available from the
authors upon request.
3. These as are low due to the multidimensional nature of savoring,
but can be increased if we rely only on the three self-report items,
which share method variance (a
¼.67; a
¼.70). Using
this 3-item measure did not change the significance of any of the
results; thus, we retained the behavioral display measure given its
theoretical importance in the conceptualization of savoring.
Aknin, L. B., Norton, M. I., & Dunn, E. W. (2009). From wealth to
well-being? Money matters, but less than people think. Journal
of Positive Psychology,4, 523–527.
Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator–mediator
variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual,
strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology,51, 1173–1182.
Bryant, F. B. (2003). Savoring beliefs inventory (SBI): A scale for
measuring beliefs about savouring. Journal of Mental Health,12,
Bryant, F. B., Chadwick, E. D., & Kluwe, K. (2011). Understanding
the processes that regulate positive emotional experience:
Unsolved problems and future directions for theory and research
on savoring. International Journal of Wellbeing,1, 107–126.
Bryant, F. B., & Veroff, J. (2007). Savoring: A new model of positive
experience. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Frederick, S., & Loewenstein, G. (1999). Hedonic adaptation. In D.
Kahneman, E. Diener, & S. Norbert (Eds.), Well-being: The
foundations of hedonic psychology (pp. 302–329). New York,
NY: Russell Sage Foundation.
Galak, J., Kruger, J., & Loewenstien, G. (2012). Slow down!Insensi-
tivity to rate of consumption leads to avoidable satiation. Journal
of Consumer Research,39, 1–18.
Jose, P. E., Lim, B. T., & Bryant, F. B. (2012). Does savoring increase
happiness? A daily diary study. The Journal of Positive Psychol-
Kahneman, D., & Deaton, A. (2010). High income improves evalua-
tion of life but not emotional well-being. Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences,107, 16489–16493.
Kurtz, J. L. (2008). Looking to the future to appreciate the present:
The benefits of perceived temporal scarcity. Psychological
Science,19, 1238–1241.
Lyubomirsky, S. (2011). Hedonic adaptation to positive and negative
experiences. In S. Folkman (Ed.), Oxford handbook of stress,
health, and coping (pp. 200–224). New York, NY: Oxford Univer-
sity Press.
Lyubomirsky, S., & Lepper, H. S. (1999). A measure of subjective
happiness: Preliminary reliability and construct validation. Social
Indicators Research,46, 137–155.
Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing
happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of Gen-
eral Psychology,9, 111–131.
Ne´ lis, D., Quoidbach, J., Hansenne, M., & Mikolajczak, M. (2011).
Measuring individual differences in emotion regulation: The Emo-
tion Regulation Profile-Revised (ERP-R). Psychologica Belgica,
51, 49–91.
Nelson, L. D., & Meyvis, T. (2008). Interrupted consumption: Adap-
tation and the disruption of hedonic experience. Journal of Market-
ing Research,45, 654–664.
Nelson, L. D., Meyvis, T., & Galak, J. (2009). Enhancing the
television-viewing experience through commercial interruptions.
Journal of Consumer Research,36, 160–172.
Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2008). Asymptotic and resampling
strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in
multiple mediator models. Behavior Research Methods,40,
Quoidbach, J., Berry, E. V., Hansenne, M., & Mikolajczak, M. (2010).
Positive emotion regulation and well-being: Comparing the impact
of eight savoring and dampening strategies. Personality and Indi-
vidual Differences,49, 368–373.
Quoidbach, J., Dunn, E. W., Petrides, K. V., & Mikolajczak, M.
(2010). Money giveth, money taketh away: The dual effect of
wealth on happiness. Psychological Science,21, 759–763.
Redden, J. P., & Galak, J. (in press). The subjective sense of feeling
satiated. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. L. (2004). Achieving sustainable
new happiness: Prospects, practices, and prescriptions. In A.
Linley & S. Joseph (Eds.), Positive psychology in practice (pp.
127–145). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.
Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. L. (2012). The challenge of
staying happier: Testing the hedonic adaptation prevention
model. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,35,
Shrout, P. E., & Bolger, N. (2002). Mediation in experimental and
nonexperimental studies: New procedures and recommendations.
Psychological Methods,7, 422–445.
Tugade, M. M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2007). Regulation of positive
emotions: Emotion regulation strategies that promote resilience.
Journal of Happiness Studies,8, 311–333.
Quoidbach and Dunn 5
at Harvard Libraries on February 11, 2013spp.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and
validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The
PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
Wilson, T. D., & Gilbert, D. T. (2008). Explaining away: A model of
affective adaptation. Perspectives on Psychological Science,3,
Jordi Quoidbach, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in the Psychology
Department at Harvard University. His work focuses on positive emo-
tion regulation.
Elizabeth W. Dunn, PhD, is an associate professor at the University of
British Columbia. Her work focuses on happiness and self-knowledge.
6Social Psychological and Personality Science 00(0)
at Harvard Libraries on February 11, 2013spp.sagepub.comDownloaded from
... Many studies on hedonic preferences document a strong preference for novel options: When people seek to maximize enjoyment, they tend to choose something new rather than something they have already experienced (Kahn and Ratner, 2005;McAlister and Pessemier, 1982;O'Brien and Smith, 2019;Ratner, Kahn, and Kahneman, 1999;Read and Loewenstein, 1995;Simonson, 1990). Indeed, 'variety is the spice of life': Experiencing activities we have yet to experience really does slow hedonic adaptation and foster enjoyable discovery of new information (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, and Schkade, 2005;Quoidbach and Dunn, 2013;Sheldon, Boehm, and Lyubomirsky, 2012), suggesting people's intuitive preferences are not necessarily mistaken in isolation. A central tenet of Berlyne's (1970) classic model of reward value prescribes people to pursue novelty within sets of simple stimuli in order to avoid 'tedium. ...
... A central tenet of Berlyne's (1970) classic model of reward value prescribes people to pursue novelty within sets of simple stimuli in order to avoid 'tedium. ' Suggestive of these benefits, participants in one experiment (Quoidbach and Dunn, 2013) were randomly assigned into one of two conditions: to eat the same chocolate repeatedly throughout the testing period (i.e. the chocolate grows relatively less novel) or to only eat this chocolate at the very end of the testing period (i.e. the chocolate is relatively novel). These latter participants reported greater chocolate enjoyment, suggesting that the novel context itself (beyond the actual thing being consumed) can causally enhance people's consumption experience. ...
... 71 update their construals and interpretations. Thus, via the same psychology that can lead entirely novel stimuli to be appetitive and disrupt hedonic adaptation (Berlyne, 1970;Lyubomirsky et al., 2005;Quoidbach and Dunn, 2013;Sheldon et al., 2012), revisiting the past can be highly pleasurable in and of itself-much more enjoyable than people imagine. O'Brien (2019) documented these benefits, plus people's tendency to overlook them. ...
Full-text available
People fill their time by choosing between old versus new activities. This chapter highlights the unforeseen value of the former choice. First, it summarizes traditional perspectives that highlight the value of the new and exciting (‘variety is the spice of life’). Second, it summarizes recent discoveries that instead highlight the value of the old and familiar. It organizes these discoveries around three primary benefits: Mastery, Mood, and Meaning. Repeating past experiences involves a great deal of (i) learning and rediscovery, thus promoting mastery; (ii) pleasure and positive emotion, thus promoting mood; and (iii) connection to others and to other points in time, thus promoting meaning. These benefits sometimes even outweigh those gleaned from novelty-seeking. People often overlook such benefits, to their own detriment. Finally, the chapter discusses theoretical insights, practical implications, and pressing questions for future research.
... To date, the dominant assumption in the literature is that people prefer novelty. Novelty provides many hedonic benefits, from absorbing attention and thus promoting immersion and savoring (Sansone, Weir, Harpster, & Morgan, 1992;Quoidbach & Dunn, 2013), to satisfying curiosity and expanding one's "experiential CV" (Keinan & Kivetz, 2011), to fostering creativity (Ritter et al., 2012) and leaving a rosy trace in memory (Ratner et al., 1999). People also derive social utility such that choosing novelty signals to others that they must have desirable traits (e.g., exciting, fun: Ratner & Kahn, 2002). ...
... Recent research has shown that people hold diverse beliefs of well-being (e.g., Diener & Seligman, 2004;Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). Some believe that individuals can't really change their basic level of well-being (e.g., Csikszentmihalyi, 1999); Others believe that people can change their basic level of well-being (e.g., Lyubomirsky et al., 2005), which is largely under their control (e.g., Quoidbach & Dunn, 2013). Prior studies have shown the effect of these beliefs on well-being in adults (Howell et al., 2016;Passmore et al., 2018;Van Tongeren & Burnette, 2018), but little is known about the relationship in adolescents and potential mechanisms that can explain the relationship. ...
Full-text available
Prior research has shown that incremental beliefs about well-being can influence well-being in adults, but less is known about the relationship in adolescents and the potential underlying mechanisms that explain the relationship. The present study aimed at examining the association between incremental well-being beliefs and well-being in adolescents and the mediating role of self-esteem and optimism. Study 1 showed that incremental well-being beliefs predicted well-being in a sample of 390 adolescents aged 10–14, even after adjusting for age, gender, subjective family socioeconomic status, and incremental beliefs about ability and emotion. Study 2 used another sample (N = 405) to replicate this association and further found that self-esteem and optimism independently mediated the association. These findings provide initial evidence for the association between incremental well-being beliefs and well-being in adolescents and elucidate possible mediational mechanisms (i.e., self-esteem and optimism) of how incremental beliefs about well-being are linked to well-being.
... To date, the dominant assumption in the literature is that people prefer novelty. Novelty provides many hedonic benefits, from absorbing attention and thus promoting immersion and savoring (Sansone, Weir, Harpster, & Morgan, 1992;Quoidbach & Dunn, 2013), to satisfying curiosity and expanding one's "experiential CV" (Keinan & Kivetz, 2011), to fostering creativity (Ritter et al., 2012) and leaving a rosy trace in memory (Ratner et al., 1999). People also derive social utility such that choosing novelty signals to others that they must have desirable traits (e.g., exciting, fun: Ratner & Kahn, 2002). ...
Full-text available
People fill their free time by choosing between hedonic activities that are new and exciting (e.g., exploring a buzzed-about restaurant) versus old and familiar (e.g., revisiting the same old spot). The dominant psychological assumption is that people will prefer novelty, holding constant factors like cost, availability, and convenience between acquiring such options ("variety is the spice of life"). Eight preregistered experiments (total N = 5,889) reveal that people's attraction to novelty depends, at least in part, on their temporal context-namely, on perceived endings. As participants faced a shrinking window of opportunity to enjoy a general category of experience (even merely temporarily; e.g., eating one's last dessert before starting a diet), their hedonic preferences shifted away from new and exciting options and toward old favorites. This relative shift emerged across many domains (e.g., food, travel, music), situations (e.g., impending New Year's resolutions, COVID-19 shutdowns), and consequential behaviors (e.g., choices with financial stakes). Using both moderation and mediation approaches, we found that perceived endings increase the preference for familiarity because they increase people's desire to ensure a personally meaningful experience on which to end, and returning to old favorites is typically more meaningful than exploring novelty. Endings increased participants' preference for familiarity even when it meant sacrificing other desirable attributes (e.g., exciting stimulation). Together, these findings advance and bridge research on hedonic preferences, time and timing, and the motivational effects of change. Variety may be the "spice of life," but familiarity may be the spice of life's endings. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
... However, it is known from other work that artificially restricting access to desirable items can have the opposite effect than intended, in that individuals are more likely to want to spend more later (e.g. [30]). Urgent research is clearly needed to fully elucidate the causal relationships between LS, behaviour and wellbeing, and this can be best achieved by independent R. Soc. ...
Full-text available
There are emerging concerns that loot boxes—digital video game items that can be purchased for a chance at randomized rewards—are associated with problematic gambling behaviours and, in turn, are potentially harmful. Current research suggests consistent correlations between loot box spending (LS) and problematic gambling symptomology; however, little research has looked at relationships with mental wellbeing. Here, we used a Bayesian hypothesis testing framework to assess the relative strength of evidence for relationships between LS, excessive gaming, problem gambling, mental wellbeing and psychological distress. Two thousand seven hundred twenty-eight participants who reported playing games containing loot box mechanics in the past month answered a survey assessing the above measures, as well as other forms of digital spending. The results showed extremely strong evidence for a positive correlation between LS and problem gambling; however, there was no evidence to suggest relationships between such spending and mental wellbeing or psychological distress. Exploratory results suggested that individuals who spend money on loot boxes also spend more across a range of digital purchases generally. The findings highlight an urgent need to understand what constitutes harm when considering LS effects and provide further context for discussions regarding how best to regulate such mechanisms.
... According to the process model of emotion regulation, savoring can be accomplished by (a) seeking positive situations, (b) taking specific actions to further increase their pleasantness, (c) purposefully paying attention to their positive features, (d) changing one's appraisals, and (e) altering one's behavioral responses, all of which aim to make the most of the positive stimuli that are available . For example, by taking the time to fully immerse oneself in the sensory experience of eating a piece of candy, people can increase the positive emotion they derive from such an experience (Quoidbach & Dunn, 2013;Vohs et al., 2013). Likewise, by reframing their current situation as a special moment to be cherished, people can extract greater positive emotion from their daily experiences (Layous et al., 2018). ...
Full-text available
Savoring-an emotion-regulation strategy that involves deliberately upregulating positive affect-has many benefits, but what enhances savoring in the present moment? Drawing from life-history theory, affective and developmental science, and social-psychological frameworks, we examined the idea that perceptions of uncertainty--perceiving the world as random and unpredictable-enhance subsequent savoring. In a large experience-sampling study (Study 1, N = 6,680), we found that individuals who perceived more uncertainty showed increases in subsequent savoring in their daily lives. In a preregistered experiment (Study 2, N = 397), individuals who watched a film that induced uncertainty (vs. order or a control condition) subsequently reported higher savoring intentions. Finally, in a field experiment on a busy urban street (Study 3, N = 201), we found that passersby who received fliers that induced uncertainty (vs. order) subsequently engaged in more savoring behavior by stopping to smell a bouquet of roses. These findings from three studies with diverse samples and methodologies underscore an upside to the specter of uncertainty: it can cause people to savor the positives of the present. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
... No gratitude-based interventions have been developed for LGBQ clients thus far. Gratitude-based interventions could include various activities, such as Mental Subtraction (Koo, Algoe, Wilson, & Gilbert, 2008) and Savor (Quoidbach & Dunn, 2013). Moreover, health care providers working with LGBQ people could focus their efforts on promoting their clients' resilience (i.e. ...
Full-text available
This study examined the character strengths associated with higher well-being and lower mental distress among 404 LGBQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer) individuals. Results indicated that out of the 24 character strengths tested, hope, love, perseverance, gratitude, and social intelligence were positively associated with well-being. Furthermore, hope, zest, and self-regulation were negatively related to lower mental distress, whereas appreciation of beauty and excellence was positively associated with mental distress. These findings could inform innovative strengths-based interventions designed to promote better mental health in LGBQ people, which is an untapped resource in the fields of positive psychology and LGBQ psychology.
Full-text available
Many people living in modern society feel like they do not have enough time and are constantly searching for more. But is having limited discretionary time actually detrimental? And can there be downsides of having too much discretionary time? In two large-scale data sets spanning 35,375 Americans and two experiments, we explore the relationship between the amount of discretionary time individuals have and their subjective well-being. We find and internally replicate a negative quadratic relationship between discretionary time and subjective well-being. These results show that whereas having too little time is indeed linked to lower subjective well-being caused by stress, having more time does not continually translate to greater subjective well-being. Having an abundance of discretionary time is sometimes even linked to lower subjective well-being because of a lacking sense of productivity. In such cases, the negative effect of having too much discretionary time can be attenuated when people spend this time on productive activities. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
Full-text available
Our current understanding of the efficacy of psychological interventions in improving mental states of wellbeing is incomplete. This study aimed to overcome limitations of previous reviews by examining the efficacy of distinct types of psychological interventions, irrespective of their theoretical underpinning, and the impact of various moderators, in a unified systematic review and meta-analysis. Four-hundred-and-nineteen randomized controlled trials from clinical and non-clinical populations (n = 53,288) were identified for inclusion. Mindfulness-based and multi-component positive psychological interventions demonstrated the greatest efficacy in both clinical and non-clinical populations. Meta-analyses also found that singular positive psychological interventions, cognitive and behavioural therapy-based, acceptance and commitment therapy-based, and reminiscence interventions were impactful. Effect sizes were moderate at best, but differed according to target population and moderator, most notably intervention intensity. The evidence quality was generally low to moderate. While the evidence requires further advancement, the review provides insight into how psychological interventions can be designed to improve mental wellbeing. This meta-analysis of 419 randomized controlled trials found that various types of psychological interventions could improve mental wellbeing in clinical and non-clinical populations. Effect sizes tended to be small to moderate and were influenced by various moderators.
Full-text available
Why it may be Impossible to Increase a Person's Happiness LevelWhy it may be Possible to Increase a Person's happiness level after allA New Conceptual Model of HappinessTesting the ModelHappiness-inducing InterventionsFuture Research and Recommendations for InterventionsFactors Influencing Participants' Acceptance of InterventionsRecommendations for HappinessConclusion
Full-text available
Empirical and anecdotal evidence for hedonic adaptation suggests that the joys of loves and triumphs and the sorrows of losses and humiliations fade with time. If people's goals are to increase or maintain well-being, then their objectives will diverge depending on whether their fortunes have turned for the better (which necessitates slowing down or thwarting adaptation) or for the worse (which calls for activating and accelerating it). In this chapter, I first introduce the construct of hedonic adaptation and its attendant complexities. Next, I review empirical evidence on how people adapt to circumstantial changes, and conjecture why the adaptation rate differs in response to favorable versus unfavorable life changes. I then discuss the relevance of examining adaptation to questions of how to enhance happiness (in the positive domain) and to facilitate coping (in the negative domain). Finally, I present a new dynamic theoretical model (developed with Sheldon) of the processes and mechanisms underlying hedonic adaptation. Drawing from the positive psychological literature, I propose ways that people can fashion self-practiced positive activities in the service of managing stress and bolstering well-being.
Full-text available
In this article, we attempt to distinguish between the properties of moderator and mediator variables at a number of levels. First, we seek to make theorists and researchers aware of the importance of not using the terms moderator and mediator interchangeably by carefully elaborating, both conceptually and strategically, the many ways in which moderators and mediators differ. We then go beyond this largely pedagogical function and delineate the conceptual and strategic implications of making use of such distinctions with regard to a wide range of phenomena, including control and stress, attitudes, and personality traits. We also provide a specific compendium of analytic procedures appropriate for making the most effective use of the moderator and mediator distinction, both separately and in terms of a broader causal system that includes both moderators and mediators. (46 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Full-text available
Consumers often choose how quickly to consume things they enjoy. The research presented here demonstrates that they tend to consume too rapidly, growing tired of initially well-liked stimuli such as a favorite snack (experiments 1 and 4) or an enjoyable video game (experiments 2 and 3) more quickly than they would if they slowed consumption. The results also demonstrate that such overly-rapid consumption results from a failure to appreciate that longer breaks between consumption episodes slow satiation. The results present a paradox: Participants who choose their own rate of consumption experience less pleasure than those who have a slower rate of consumption chosen for them.
Full-text available
Bryant and Veroff (20077. Bryant , FB and Veroff , J . 2007. Savoring: A new model of positive experience, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. View all references, Savoring: A new model of positive experience. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates) have proposed that savoring, namely, regulating the emotional impact of positive events by one's cognitive or behavioral responses, increases happiness. The present study was designed to determine whether and how savoring influences daily happiness. Experience sampling methodology was used with 101 participants, who provided self-reports of their momentary positive events, savoring responses, and positive affect daily over a period of 30 days. Multilevel modeling analyses verified that (a) these three constructs were positively related to each other within a given day, (b) momentary savoring both mediated and moderated the impact of daily positive events on momentary happy mood, and (c) levels of trait savoring moderated the observed mediational pattern. These results provide support for the hypothesis that savoring is an important mechanism through which people derive happiness from positive events.
Full-text available
Six studies demonstrate that interrupting a consumption experience can make pleasant experiences more enjoyable and unpleasant experiences more irritating, even though consumers avoid breaks in pleasant experiences and choose breaks in unpleasant experiences. Across a variety of hedonic experiences (e.g., listening to noises or songs, sitting in a massage chair), the authors observe that breaks disrupt hedonic adaptation and, as a result, intensify the subsequent experience.
Full-text available
This article documents a widespread bias: a tendency to overestimate how much others will pay for goods. The effect may influence pricing and negotiations, which depend on accurate assessments of others’ valuations. It is also shown to underlie or interact with several widely researched behavioral phenomena, including egocentric empathy gaps, the endowment effect, and the false-consensus effect.
In recent studies of the structure of affect, positive and negative affect have consistently emerged as two dominant and relatively independent dimensions. A number of mood scales have been created to measure these factors; however, many existing measures are inadequate, showing low reliability or poor convergent or discriminant validity. To fill the need for reliable and valid Positive Affect and Negative Affect scales that are also brief and easy to administer, we developed two 10-item mood scales that comprise the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). The scales are shown to be highly internally consistent, largely uncorrelated, and stable at appropriate levels over a 2-month time period. Normative data and factorial and external evidence of convergent and discriminant validity for the scales are also presented. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)