You can extend wonderful experiences and shorten bad ones
Think about your latest experiences—weekends never last long enough, meetings last too long, and bad traffic never ends. What if we told you that you can change how you view these experiences simply by recategorizing them in your brain?
A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research reveals:
“Consumers do not just focus on individual experiences. Instead, they categorize and manage experiences in a way that stretches out good experiences and shortens negative experiences,” write authors Anuj K. Shah (University of Chicago Booth School of Business) and Adam L. Alter (New York University).
Take these hypothetical weekend or vacation plans as an example:
You’re planning on going to see a musical, visit a jazz club, catch a baseball game, and see the US Open.
If you think about each event separately, then you will feel equally close to the end of your weekend after each event. But if you let your brain categorize the musical and the jazz club as “music” and the baseball game and tennis match as “sports,” you can extend your enjoyment of all the events with the trick that follows.
If you categorize the events, your weekend will seem shorter if you do both events from one category before the other. On the flip side, the weekend will seem longer if you go to one event from each category first because you will still then have events from each category to look forward to.
The study concludes: “A day at an amusement park might seem less fleeting if rides and games are interspersed so that guests can still look forward to both rides and games. On the other hand, a dental procedure might seem quicker if the dentist breaks the procedure down into two phases, emphasizing when the difficult phase is over and he is moving on to the easier phase.”