Hedonic Adaptation

Hedonic Adaptation

Hedonic Adaptation

Imagine winning the lottery.

Now imagine having a terrible accident and ending up a paraplegic.

How will you feel? Most people think winning the lottery will make them deliriously happy and being in a wheelchair would leave them utterly depressed. Yet research suggests otherwise. When interviewed 12 months after the event it would seem that lottery winners aren’t much happier and those in a wheelchair not much sadder than they were before. This is because of hedonic adaptation. It’s very much part of being human and it’s very important.

We anticipate emotional feelings when we imagine events and yet in reality we adapt to our circumstances and the positive or negative feelings wear off very quickly.

From a marketing point of view it is easy to appeal to this anticipation. The lottery does it nicely; for most people winning would be unimaginably amazing, life changing and happiness inducing (and yet it never lasts).

From a buyers point of view, putting off purchasing and then spreading out the purchase is likely to be the best approach. Don’t buy lots of new things all at once (the feeling will wear off), buy one thing at a time and spread out the purchases.

That way you can enjoy the anticipation and keep the enjoyment going before hedonic adaptation does its thing.