Theses Doctoral

The Need to Feel Better

Chen, Charlene Y.

There is a popular lay-belief that consumers always strive to repair their negative mood. However, one can think of contrary instances where people seek out melancholic music when they feel sad, or choose to remain miserable when something frustrates them. My dissertation proposes that people vary considerably in the degree to which they need to feel better when they experience negative feelings. Specifically, my dissertation advances current understanding of why certain individuals do not engage in mood repair. It also allows us to decipher when people would form judgments and decisions in a mood-congruent versus mood-incongruent manner, thereby accounting for the lack of robustness of mood repair effects. To this end, I advance a construct called the "Need to Feel Better" (NFB), and propose four distinct facets of NFB that individuals differ on: 1) behavioral tendency to repair bad moods, 2) aversion to negative feelings, 3) pleasure derived from negative feelings, and 4) tendency to reflect on negative feelings. I also propose a scale that measures this construct and the four facets it encompasses. My dissertation shows that NFB is associated with stronger preference for common mood repair activities such as leisure shopping and exercise. It is also associated with certain demographics (e.g., age and gender), personality traits (e.g., extraversion and agreeableness), and self-regulation constructs (e.g., promotion-focus). NFB also predicts people's tendency to engage in mood repair when they experience negative moods and their attitudes towards mood lifting appeals. From a managerial standpoint, this work provides insights for the marketing of "feel-good" products (e.g., aromatherapy and vacation packages) and the use of mood repair appeals (e.g., Volkswagen's "Get Happy" Super Bowl commercial and the "Look Good Feel Better" campaign for women with cancer by the cosmetics industry).


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Pham, Michel T.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 17, 2015