Looking to enjoy March Madness? Don’t bet on it


March 20, 2014
Brain & Behavior

Placing a bet with a few friends on the NCAA basketball tournament this year? You might not enjoy the experience as much as if you hadn’t laid down any money.

“Predictions do fact have a negative effect on enjoyment when the outcome is relatively uncertain,” as in the upcoming basketball tournament, says Stephen M. Nowlis, PhD, the August A. Busch, Jr. Distinguished Professor in Marketing at Olin Business School.

Nowlis is co-author of a 2008 paper in the Journal of Consumer Researchtitled “The Effect of Making a Prediction About the Outcome of a Consumption Experience on the Enjoyment of That Experience.”

In a series of four experiments, Nowlis found that consumers who make predictions about uncertain events experience significantly less enjoyment while observing the events than those who don’t make predictions.

The study found that participants incorrectly believed predictions would have a positive effect on expected enjoyment.

“In hypothetical scenarios, the consumer is apt to focus on the potential excitement resulting from being right and to underestimate the effect of anticipated regret resulting from being wrong,” Nowlis writes in the paper.

“We thought the opposite would be true,” Nowlis says. “We explain our results in terms of anticipated regret. In fact, removing the source of anticipated regret eliminates the negative effect of prediction on enjoyment.”


Looking to enjoy March Madness? Don’t bet on it

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