‘Happiness through experiences’ research wins JCR best article award

Dr Amit Bhattacharjee from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) won a Journal of Consumer Research (JCR) Best Article Award for his research and knowledge about consumer behaviour. He received the award at the annual Association for Consumer Research conference, which took place in San Diego, California, USA, on Saturday 28 October 2017.

The JCR Best Article Award goes to the article that has made the greatest contribution to knowledge about consumer behaviour over the last three years. Dr Bhattacharjee co-wrote the winning research paper Happiness from Ordinary and Extraordinary Experiences with Cassie Mogilner Holmes, now an associate professor of marketing at the Anderson School of Management, UCLA. It was published in the Journal of Consumer Research in June 2014.

Happiness from experiences

As noted in the paper’s abstract, prior research indicates that experiences bring greater happiness than material possessions. But which experiences result in the greatest happiness? This paper is one of the first to categorise types of experiences and highlights one important distinction: the extent to which an experience is common and frequent (ordinary) versus uncommon and infrequent (extraordinary). Eight studies examine the experiences individuals recall, plan, imagine and post on Facebook. These findings suggest that the happiness enjoyed from ordinary and extraordinary experiences depends on age.

The role of self-definition

Younger people, who view their future as extensive, gain more happiness from extraordinary experiences. However, ordinary experiences become increasingly associated with happiness as people get older, such that they produce as much happiness as extraordinary experiences when individuals have limited time remaining.

Self-definition drives these effects: although extraordinary experiences are self-defining throughout someone’s life span, as people get older they increasingly define themselves by the ordinary experiences that comprise their daily lives.

Key managerial insights

Brand managers are increasingly recognising the benefits of experiential marketing, but often assume extraordinary experiences to be inherently superior. Accordingly, practitioners often strive to transform ordinary experiences into extraordinary ones. But these findings suggest that managers may overlook the benefits of ordinary experience. Realising the benefits of experiential marketing depends on promoting and highlighting the types of experiences most appropriate for a given target segment.

More information

Amit Bhattacharjee

Dr Amit Bhattacharjee’s research in RSM’s Department of Marketing Management lies at the intersection of moral judgment, economic reasoning, cultural beliefs, and consumer well-being. He uses experimental methods to investigate how consumers navigate the moral and social backdrop of the marketplace. His publications have appeared in leading journals in marketing and psychology, such as Journal of Consumer Research and Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. He teaches several courses in RSM’s bachelor and master programmes.

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

Companies , Doctoral Programme , Faculty & Research , Homepage , In the spotlight , International , Newsroom , Marketing Management , Intranet