When guilt begets pleasure: The positive effect of a negative emotion

Kelly Goldsmith*, Eunice Kim Cho, Ravi Dhar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Understanding how emotions can affect pleasure has important implications both for people and for firms' communication strategies. Prior research has shown that experienced pleasure often assimilates to the valence of one's active emotions, such that negative emotions decrease pleasure. In contrast, the authors demonstrate that the activation of guilt, a negative emotion, enhances the pleasure experienced from hedonic consumption. The authors show that this effect occurs because of a cognitive association between guilt and pleasure, such that activating guilt can automatically activate cognitions related to pleasure. Furthermore, the authors show that this pattern of results is unique to guilt and cannot be explained by a contrast effect that generalizes to other negative emotions. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for marketing and consumption behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)872-881
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Emotion
  • Guilt pleasure
  • Hedonic consumption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


Dive into the research topics of 'When guilt begets pleasure: The positive effect of a negative emotion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this