Hedonic AdaptationOpen Access

Hedonic Adaptation

We feel less joy for a gain and discomfort for a loss as time goes by

No matter how good a new experience feels, our feelings eventually revert back to normal. But fear not, for it can be slowed down…

Lucas & Clark (2006). Do people really adapt to marriage? Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(4), 405-426.

The study

Setup

2230 people were tracked over a 19-year period and were asked to record their life satisfaction. All at some point during the study got married.

Results

Results showed that despite average happiness peaking in the years surrounding their marriage, it eventually returned to the baseline.

Study graph

Key Takeaways

Create unexpected secrets (Lyubomirsky, 2010).

As soon as your once-new product or service ceases to draw attention, it'll fail to be appreciated. What bundles, new variety or joyful hidden details can you build in and communicate to offset this?

Takeaway image

Highlight new possibilities.

What ways can your product change customers' lives to set them on a new positive hedonic path? For example, a healthy snackbox subscription could add in recipe cards, unlocking a second-order effect of healthy food-pairing.

Takeaway image

Reduce pain with certainty.

We revert to the mean faster for negative experiences when they're short and predictable. Banks offering loans shouldn’t just draw on the habitual pain of repayment but also seek to build a positive sense of closure around the joyous certainty of the final repayment. 

Takeaway image
Takeaway image
Hedonic Adaptation

Hedonic Adaptation

We feel less joy for a gain and discomfort for a loss as time goes by

No matter how good a new experience feels, our feelings eventually revert back to normal. But fear not, for it can be slowed down…

The study

Setup

2230 people were tracked over a 19-year period and were asked to record their life satisfaction. All at some point during the study got married.

Results

Results showed that despite average happiness peaking in the years surrounding their marriage, it eventually returned to the baseline.

study graph
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Open access, foundational Nuggets

Scarcity

Scarcity

We value things more when they’re in limited supply

Social Proof

Social Proof

We copy the behaviors of others, especially in unfamiliar situations

Prospect Theory

Prospect Theory

A loss hurts more than an equal gain feels good

Reciprocity

Reciprocity

We’re hardwired to return kindness received

Framing

Framing

We make very different decisions based on how a fact is presented

Loss Aversion

Loss Aversion

We feel more negative when losing something than positive when we gain it

Default Effect

Default Effect

We tend to accept the option pre-chosen for us

Anchoring

Anchoring

What we see first affects our judgement of everything thereafter

Fast & Slow Thinking

Fast & Slow Thinking

We make knee-jerk spontaneous decisions that can cause regretful damage

Dynamic Norms

Dynamic Norms

We’re more likely to change if we can see a new behavior developing

Salience

Salience

Our choices are determined by the information we're shown

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