A Path to More Enduring Happiness: Take a Detour from Specific Emotional Goals

Maria A. Rodas, Rohini Ahluwalia, Nicholas J. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Although much of consumption behavior is prompted by the pursuit of happiness, enduring happiness remains elusive, since happiness is destined to adaptation. Our research identifies a novel yet simple method of slowing hedonic adaptation from consumption activities: reducing specificity of the happiness goal. We propose that in the realm of happiness, contrary to findings from other domains, having a general (e.g., feeling good) versus a specific (e.g., excitement) emotional goal might hold the key to more enduring happiness. One lab experiment and a longitudinal study demonstrate general (vs. specific) goals expand the breadth of emotions experienced from consumption activities, which in turn impact the top-of-mind awareness of the consumption target over time; higher top-of-mind awareness of the target allows one to continue to derive happiness from it. Importantly, the happiness advantage of general emotional goals strengthens over time. Given a significant tendency by consumers to pursue specific happiness goals (as three pilot studies reveal), a simple change in the way they formulate their happiness goals could be consequential for consumer wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-681
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Society for Consumer Psychology


  • Affect and emotion
  • Goals and motivation
  • Transformative consumer research


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