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BEDR Workshop: Ed O'Brien

Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at 11:40am to 1:10pm

Sage Hall, 141
Johnson Graduate School-Management, 106 Sage Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-6201, USA

Ed O'Brien, Chicago Booth

Misunderstanding The Value of Experience

What would it be like to revisit a museum, restaurant, or city you just visited? To rewatch a movie you just watched? To replay a game you just played? People often have opportunities to repeat hedonic activities. Seven studies (total N = 3,356) suggest that such opportunities may be undervalued: Many repeat experiences are not as dull as they appear. Studies 1–3 documented the basic effect. All participants first completed a real-world activity once in full (Study 1, museum exhibit; Study 2, movie; Study 3, video game). Then, some predicted their reactions to repeating it whereas others actually repeated it. Predictors underestimated Experiencers’ enjoyment, even when experienced enjoyment indeed declined. Studies 4 and 5 compared mechanisms: neglecting the pleasurable byproduct of continued exposure to the same content (e.g., fluency) versus neglecting the new content that manifests by virtue of continued exposure (e.g., discovery), both of which might dilute uniform dullness. We found stronger support for the latter: The misprediction was moderated by stimulus complexity (Studies 4 and5) and mediated by the amount of novelty discovered within the stimulus (Study 5), holding exposure constant. Doing something once may engender an inflated sense that one has now seen “it,” leaving people naïve to the missed nuances remaining to enjoy. Studies 6 and 7 highlighted consequences: Participants incurred costs to avoid repeats so to maximize enjoyment, in specific contexts for which repetition would have been at least as enjoyable as the novel alternative (Studies 6 and 7). These findings warrant a new look at traditional assumptions about hedonic adaptation and novelty preferences. Repetition too could add an unforeseen spice to life.

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Event Type

Conference/Workshop, Seminar




economics, EconSeminar, EconBehave



Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Amy Moesch

Contact Phone



Ed O'Brien

Speaker Affiliation

Chicago, Booth

Dept. Web Site

Open To

Cornell Economics Community (List Serve Members)