Table of Contents

Handbook on the Economics of Happiness

Handbook on the Economics of Happiness

Elgar original reference

Edited by Luigino Bruni and Pier Luigi Porta

This book is a welcome consolidation and extension of the recent expanding debates on happiness and economics. Happiness and economics, as a new field for research, is now of pivotal interest particularly to welfare economists and psychologists. This Handbook provides an unprecedented forum for discussion of the economic issues relating to happiness. It reviews the more recent literature and offers the interested reader an insight into the vast scope of the field in terms of the theory, its applications and also experimental design. The Handbook also gives substantial indications as to the future direction of research in the field, with particular regard to policy applications and developing an economics of interpersonal relations which includes reciprocity and social interaction theory.

Chapter 11: Past Product Experiences as Determinants of Happiness with Target Product Experiences: Implications for Subjective Well-being

Rajagopal Raghunathan and Julie R. Irwin

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology


Rajagopal Raghunathan and Julie R. Irwin 1. Introduction What makes us happy? This is a question philosophers (for example, Aristotle 1934), psychologists (for example, James 1890 [1948]) and economists (for example, Bentham 1789 [1948]) have pondered over, in one fashion or another, for well over two centuries. In the course of attempting to address this question, several paradoxes have arisen. For example, it is unclear that amassing material wealth necessarily translates into greater happiness, either at the individual level (for example, Brickman et al. 1978) or at the societal or national level (for example, Easterlin 1974). A second, somewhat disturbing – if not paradoxical – finding, is that current happiness with one’s experiences in a particular domain (say, at work) is likely to be negatively correlated with one’s future happiness in the same domain (for example, Parducci 1984). The research we report in this chapter is related to the second issue. Within the field of marketing, it is well established that consumers often seek products for their hedonic potential (for example, Holbrook and Hirschman 1982). For example, we visit museums, take vacations, watch movies, or play video games with the intent of deriving enjoyment, and would not continue to do so if they stopped providing enjoyment. A question that naturally follows, then, is: what features of a product determine the enjoyment from it? Intuitively, it is clear that the hedonic quality of a product experience – its overall pleasantness or unpleasantness – is an important determinant of enjoyment. For example, ceteris paribus, we are...

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