Promoting Consumption Experiences by Positive Incidental Affect: The Interplay of Valence and Arousal in Incidental Affect Infusion Processes

Promoting Consumption Experiences by Positive Incidental Affect: The Interplay of Valence and Arousal in Incidental Affect Infusion Processes

By Aiqing Ling, Nathalie George, Baba Shiv, Hilke Plassmann
May 25,2018Working Paper No. 3677

Much research in consumer psychology has investigated how affective reactions unrelated to a decision at hand (i.e., incidental affect) influence consumers’ preconsumption preferences. Most of this research has approximated the incidental affect through its valence or induced action tendency while largely neglecting to delve into the role of arousal during the affect infusion process. This research investigated how valence and arousal triggered by incidental affect inducers interact and influence consumers’ consumption experiences. In a set of three multimethod studies combining functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), skin conductance recording, facial affective recording, and traditional behavioral approaches, positive incidental affect, manipulated by different affect inducers (i.e., winning money and viewing positive highly arousing images), influenced consumption experiences across different sensory domains of consumption (i.e., gustatory, visual, and auditory). Tracking moment-based changes of affective states at the neurophysiological level and directly and independently manipulating the valence and arousal of incidental affect revealed that the valence of incidental affect mediates consumers’ reported enjoyment of consuming different products and that the mediation of valence is facilitated by the arousal dimension of the incidental affect.