Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Albert P. McGraw

Second Advisor

Lawrence E. Williams

Third Advisor

Margaret C. Campbell

Fourth Advisor

John G. Lynch

Fifth Advisor

Cassie Mogilner


Consumer researchers are increasingly concerned with the well-being of consumers. In recent years, we have embraced well-being as an independent topic of study, an important implication of marketing practices, and a pursuit predictive of judgment and behavior. Yet, the variety of ways in which we measure and define well-being are increasing and sometimes contradictory and lead to contradictory results. In my dissertation, I propose that consumer well-being is best studied as a multi-dimensional dynamic process.

In the first essay, I use this dynamic conceptualization to examine how well-being changes over the lifespan. This question has received a great deal of attention in psychology, economics, sociology, and philosophy but prior work has produced equivocal results. I contribute to this important debate by testing a new method of measuring and studying well-being, one that measures multiple dimensions of well-being at once and allows each to vary independently. By separately measuring multiple contributors to well-being and examining both individual and aggregate patterns across the lifespan, I find clues as to why previous work has resulted in conflicting findings and I find I am able to explain more variance in judgments of overall well-being than alternative methods of study.

In my second essay, I demonstrate how a dynamic conceptualization of well-being can help researchers to better understand the costs and benefits associated with marketplace phenomena, specifically, hyped events. In 6 studies over 22 hyped events, I find that hype causes people to deviate from otherwise preferred activities and that this deviation is largely detrimental to consumer well-being. I found a single positive influence of hype: it sometimes improves social well-being. Hyped events helped solitary viewers feel connected to others via a shared cultural experience. Building on this insight, two studies conducted before, during, and after Super Bowls 50 and 51 revealed that focusing on the social elements of hyped events increased benefits to well-being compared to focusing on the details of the events. This essay demonstrates the limited benefits and extensive costs to believing the hype, particularly when it causes you to deviate from activities more in line with your values, goals, and preferences.