Positive Affect, Intertemporal Choice, and Levels of Thinking: Increasing Consumers' Willingness to Wait

  • Pyone J
  • Isen A
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Six studies examine the influence of positive affect on self-control in intertemporal choice (consumers' willingness to wait for desired rewards) and the cognitive processes underlying this effect. Two studies measure participants' levels of thinking in two different ways, showing that positive affect can promote forward-looking, high-level thinking. Two studies using a delay-of-gratification paradigm demonstrate this forward-looking thinking and show it to be a mindful process. Participants in positive (vs. neutral) affect were more likely to choose a larger mail-in rebate over a smaller instant rebate when the reward differences were moderate (but not when they were small). Two studies demonstrate the impact of positive affect on intertemporal preference in another way, showing that participants in positive affect do not discount the value of delayed outcomes as much as people in neutral affect do (decreased present bias). Together, the results indicate that positive affect promotes cognitive flexibility and fosters a higher level of thinking and a more future-oriented time perspective, without obscuring practical considerations and other needed detail, including context and opportunity costs, when evaluating intertemporal options

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  • Jin Seok Pyone

  • Alice M Isen

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