Publications


Yang, Yang, Yangjie Gu and Jeff Galak (2016). “When It Could Have Been Worse, It Gets Better: How the Mere Possibility of a Negative Experience Influences Hedonic Adaptation” forthcoming at Journal of Consumer Research.

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Thankfully, most product consumption experiences are positive. Unfortunately, however, those positive experiences are not always guaranteed to occur, and defects creep into the consumer experience. Though our assertion runs counter to most prescriptions, the current research proposes that making consumers exposed to the mere possibility of these negative experiences, occurring in a consumption sequence increases consumers’ happiness with those experiences overtime. Six studies demonstrate this effect and further show that this effect is driven by hedonic responses as a result of favorable uncertainty resolution. That is, with the mere possibility of a negative experience, a consumer, who actually experiences a positive outcome, is likely to feel relief or pleasantness from not having to experience the negative experience. This research has significant implications for consumer behavior. Specifically, it enriches existing literature on hedonic adaptation and uncertainty.


Galak, Jeff, Julian Givi & Elanor F. Williams (2016). Why Certain Gifts Are Great to Give But Not to Get: A Framework for Understanding Errors in Gift Giving. Forthcoming in Current Directions in Psychological Science.

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We propose that many giver-recipient discrepancies in the gift giving literature can be explained, at least partially, by the notion that when evaluating the quality of a gift, givers primarily focus on the ‘moment of exchange,’ whereas recipients primarily focus on how valuable a gift will be once owned. In this review, we summarize the variety of errors givers make, and, more critically, position these errors within our newly developed framework. We hope this framework will provide a single point of reference for those interested in gift giving and spur novel predictions about the causes and consequences of miscalibrated gift choice.


Galak, Jeff, Kurt Gray, Igor Elbert, Nina Strohminger (2016). Trickle-down preferences: Preferential conformity to high status peers in fashion choices. PLoS ONE 11(5): e0153448. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153448 [Paper]

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How much do our choices represent stable inner preferences versus social conformity? We examine conformity and consistency in sartorial choices surrounding a common life event of new norm exposure: relocation. A large-scale dataset of individual purchases of women’s shoes (16,236 transactions) across five years and 2,007 women reveals a balance of conformity and consistency, moderated by changes in location socioeconomic status. Women conform to new local norms (i.e., average heel size) when moving to relatively higher status locations, but mostly ignore new local norms when moving to relatively lower status locations. In short, at periods of transition, it is the fashion norms of the rich that trickle down to consumers. These analyses provide the first naturalistic large-scale demonstration of the tension between psychological conformity and consistency, with real decisions in a highly visible context.


Jacoby, Jack and Jeff Galak (2016). The Influence of Contextual Cues in Judgment Formation: An Ecologically Valid Test. PLoS ONE 11(4): e0154383. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0154383 [Paper]

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An ecologically valid experiment investigated the propositions that (a) people’s judgments are influenced by contextual cues, (b) that they are often unaware that those cues influenced them, and (c) that even when they know the cues should influence them, they do not readily incorporate those cues into their judgment formation. After participating in a realistic simulation of a shopping experience, 405 consumers made judgments about whether the product they examined contained fresh or preserved grapefruit sections. Our findings show that despite being aware that contextual cues (such as the location within a store where the product is sold, the type of container it is sold in, and whether the container is chilled or not) generally influence the judgment at hand, people generally fail to realize that their specific judgments were influenced at all. These findings replicate prior studies, thereby extending the generalizability and robustness of prior research.


Yang, Yang, and Jeff Galak (2015), “Sentimental Value and Its Influence on Hedonic Adaptation,”  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109 (5), 767-790 [Paper] [SSRN].

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Sentimental value is a highly prevalent, yet largely understudied phenomenon. We introduce the construct of sentimental value and investigate how and why sentimental value influences hedonic adaptation. Across 7 studies, we examine the antecedents of sentimental value and demonstrate its effect on hedonic adaptation using both naturally occurring and experimentally manipulated items with sentimental value. We further test the underlying process linking sentimental value and hedonic adaptation by showing that whereas feature-related utility decreases for all items with time, sentimental value typically does not, and that sentimental value moderates the influence of the decrement in feature-related utility on hedonic adaptation. Moreover, this moderating effect of sentimental value is driven by a shift in focus from features of the item to the associations that item possess. We conclude with a discussion of related phenomena and implications for individuals.


Open Science Collaboration. (2015).  Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science.  Science, 349, 943 [Paper]

The Open Science Collaboration is a large group of scientists working together to assess the replicatilability of psychological science. More information here.

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Reproducibility is a defining feature of science, but the extent to which it characterizes current research is unknown. We conducted replications of 100 experimental and correlational studies published in three psychology journals using high-powered designs and original materials when available. Replication effects (Mr = .197, SD = .257) were half the magnitude of original effects (Mr = .403, SD = .188), representing a substantial decline. Ninety-seven percent of original studies had significant results (p < .05). Thirty-six percent of replications had significant results; 47% of original effect sizes were in the 95% confidence interval of the replication effect size; 39% of effects were subjectively rated to have replicated the original result; and, if no bias in original results is assumed, combining original and replication results left 68% with significant effects. Correlational tests suggest that replication success was better predicted by the strength of original evidence than by characteristics of the original and replication teams.


Galak, Jeff, Joseph Redden, Yang Yang, and Ellie Kyung (2014), “How Perceptions of Temporal Distance Influence Satiation”. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology,52, 118-123. [Paper] [SSRN]

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Although people recover from satiation with the natural passage of time, we examine whether it is possible to influence the recovery process by changing merely the subjective temporal distance from past consumption. Through a series of lab and field experiments, we find that merely influencing perceptions of subjective temporal distance affects people’s desire to eat (Experiment 1), caloric value of a purchased meal (Experiment 2), and enjoyment of their favorite song (Experiment 3). Contrary to the long-held view that satiation depends on physiological factors, we provide further theoretical insight into how satiation is partially constructed—by changing perceptions of not only what has been consumed, but also when.


Galak, Jeff, Justin Kruger, and George Loewenstein (2013), “Slow Down! Insensitivity to Rate of Consumption Leads to Avoidable Satiation”,Journal of Consumer Research, 39 (5), 993-1009. [Paper] [SSRN]

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Consumers often choose how quickly to consume things they enjoy. The research presented here demonstrates that they tend to consume too rapidly, growing tired of initially well-liked stimuli such as a favorite snack (experiments 1 and 4) or an enjoyable video game (experiments 2 and 3) more quickly than they would if they slowed consumption. The results also demonstrate that such overly-rapid consumption results from a failure to appreciate that longer breaks between consumption episodes slow satiation. The results present a paradox: Participants who choose their own rate of consumption experience less pleasure than those who have a slower rate of consumption chosen for them.


Redden, Joseph and Jeff Galak (2013), “The Subjective Sense of Feeling Satiated” forthcoming Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142 (1), 209-217 [SSRN] [Paper]

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Enjoyable experiences become less enjoyable when consumed repeatedly. This process is called satiation. One antecedent to satiation is the memory for past consumption. We demonstrate that, aside from the absolute amount of past consumption recalled, people feel more satiated when they merely have the subjective sense of having consumed more recently. This is accomplished by either making the ease of retrieval of past experiences seem subjectively difficult (Studies 1 – 3), or by providing a normative standard against which to compare past consumption (Study 4). This research identifies a new driver of psychological satiation, establishes the role of metacognitive inferences in satiation, and provides insight into how satiation is constructed.


Open Science Collaboration (2012), “An Open, Large-Scale, Collaborative Effort to Estimate the Reproducibility of Psychological Science”, Perspectives on Psychological Science7, 652-655. [SSRN]

The Open Science Collaboration is a large group of scientists working together to assess the replicatilability of psychological science. More information here.

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Reproducibility is a defining feature of science. However, because of strong incentives for innovation and weak incentives for confirmation, direct replication is rarely practiced or published. The Reproducibility Project is an open, large-scale, collaborative effort to systematically examine the rate and predictors of reproducibility in psychological science. So far, 72 volunteer researchers from 41 institutions have organized to openly and transparently replicate studies published in three prominent psychological journals from 2008. Multiple methods will be used to evaluate the findings, calculate an empirical rate of replication, and investigate factors that predict reproducibility. Whatever the result, a better understanding of reproducibility will ultimately improve confidence in scientific methodology and findings.


Galak, Jeff, Robyn A. LeBoeuf, Leif D. Nelson, & Joseph P. Simmons (2012), “Correcting the Past: Failures to Replicate Psi”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 103(6), 993-948[SSRN] [Paper]

Paper originally titled  ”A Replication of the Procedures from Bem (2010, Study 8 ) and a Failure to Replicate the Same Results.” can still be found here: SSRN

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Across seven experiments (N = 3,289) we replicate the procedure of Experiments 8 and 9 from Bem (2011), which had originally demonstrated retroactive facilitation of recall. We failed to replicate that finding. We further conduct a meta-analysis of all replication attempts of these experiments and find that the average effect size (d = .04) is no different from zero. We discuss some reasons for differences between the results in this paper and those presented in Bem (2011).


Chow, Rosalind & Jeff  Galak(2012), “The effect of inequality frames on redistributive income policy support”, Psychological Science. [SSRN] [Paper]

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Although most Americans agree that wealth inequality is a pressing problem, opposition to redistributive income policies remains high, particularly among conservatives. We explore the possibility that this opposition is influenced by how income inequality is discussed: as either the poor making less than the rich or the rich making more than the poor. We find that conservatism predicted opposition to redistributive income policies when participants were told that the poor make less, but that this opposition was attenuated when participants were told that the rich make more. This effect was driven by participants’ attributions for wealth.


Stephen, Andrew T., and Jeff Galak (2012). “The effects of Traditional and Social Earned Media on Sales: An Application to a Microlending Marketplace,” forthcoming at  Journal of Marketing Research, 49, 624-639.  [Paper] [SSRN]

Finalist for 2012 Paul E. Green Award

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Marketers distinguish three types of media: paid (e.g., advertising), owned (e.g., company website), and earned (e.g., publicity). The effects of paid media on sales have been extensively covered in the marketing literature. The effects of earned media, however, have received limited attention. The authors examine how two types of earned media, traditional (e.g., publicity and press mentions) and social (e.g., blog and online community posts), affect sales and activity in each other. They analyze 14 months of daily sales and media activity data from a microlending marketplace website using a multivariate autoregressive time-series model. They find that (1) both traditional and social earned media affect sales; (2) the per-event sales impact of traditional earned media activity is larger than for social earned media; (3) because of the greater frequency of social earned media activity, after adjusting for event frequency, social earned media’s sales elasticity is significantly greater than traditional earned media’s; and (4) social earned media appears to play an important role in driving traditional earned media activity.


Galak, Jeff, Deborah Small, and Andrew Stephen (2011), “Micro-Finance Decision Making: A Field Study of Prosocial Lending,”   Journal of Marketing Research, 48, S130-S137. [SSRN] [Paper]

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Prosocial lending in the form of micro-financing, small uncollateralized loans to entrepreneurs in the developing world, has recently emerged as a leading contender as a cure for world poverty. Our research investigates, in a field setting with real world and consequential data, the characteristics of borrowers that engender lending. We observe that lenders favor individual borrowers over groups or consortia of borrowers, a pattern consistent with the identifiable victim effect. They also favor borrowers that are socially proximate to themselves. Across three dimensions of social distance (gender, occupation, and first name initial) lenders prefer to give to those who are more like themselves. Finally, we discuss policy implications of these findings


Galak, Jeff, Justin Kruger, and George Loewenstein (2011), “Is Variety The Spice of Life? It All Depends On the Rate of Consumption.” Judgment and Decision Making, 6 (3), 230-238 [Paper].

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Is variety of the spice of life? The present research suggests that the answer depends on the rate of consumption. In
three experiments, we find that, whereas a variety of stimuli is preferred to repetition of even a better-liked single stimulus
when consumption is continuous, this preference reverses when the satiation associated with repetition is reduced by
slowing down the rate of consumption. Decision makers, however, seem to under-appreciate the influence of consumption
rate on preference for (and satisfaction with) variety. At high rates of consumption, they correctly anticipate their
own, high, desire for variety, but at low rates of consumption people tend to overestimate their own desire for variety.
These results complicate the picture presented by prior research on the “diversification bias”, suggesting that people
overestimate their own desire for variety only when consumption is spaced out over time.


Simmons, Joseph P., Leif D. Nelson, Jeff Galak, and Shane Frederick (2011), “Intuitive Biases in Choice vs. Estimation: Implications for the Wisdom of Crowds,” Journal of Consumer Research, 38 (1), 1-15. [SSRN] [Paper]

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Although researchers have documented instances of crowd wisdom, it is important to know whether some kinds of judgments may lead the crowd astray, whether crowds’ judgments improve with feedback over time, and whether crowds’ judgments can be improved by changing the way judgments are elicited. We investigated these hypotheses in a sports gambling context (predictions against point spreads) believed to elicit crowd wisdom. In a season-long experiment, fans wagered over $20,000 on NFL football predictions. Contrary to the wisdom-of-crowds hypothesis, faulty intuitions led the crowd to predict “favorites” more than “underdogs” against spreads that disadvantaged favorites, even when bettors knew that the spreads disadvantaged favorites. Moreover, the bias increased over time, a result consistent with attributions for success and failure that rewarded intuitive choosing. However, when the crowd predicted game outcomes by estimating point differentials rather than by predicting against point spreads, its predictions were unbiased and wiser.


Galak, Jeff and Tom Meyvis (2011), “The Pain Was Greater If It Will Happen Again: The Effect of Continuation on Retrospective Discomfort,” forthcoming at the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 140(1), 63-75. [SSRN] [Paper]

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This research examines how perception of an unpleasant experience is influenced by the expectation that it will continue. In seven studies, we provide evidence that people tend to brace for the anticipated continuation by mentally preparing for the worst (i.e. strategic pessimism), thus making the past experience seem even more aversive. We further demonstrate this result is due to peoples’ active bracing for the upcoming continuation, that the effect is stronger among people who are more likely to brace in other domains, but disappears when people do not have the time or the cognitive resources to brace themselves.


Galak, Jeff and Leif D. Nelson (2010), “The Virtues of Opaque Prose: How Lay Beliefs About Fluency Influence Perceptions of Quality.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47 (1), 250-253 [SSRN] [Paper]

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As instructors we uniformly tell our students that writing should always be clear. This prescription meshes with our intuition, wins confirmation in scores of books on writing, and finds empirical confirmation in research on perceptual fluency: People like content that is easy to process. Nevertheless, in some circumstances people expect content to be difficult, and ease might be interpreted as a lack of quality. Sometimes, difficult is better than easy. We investigate this possibility by asking people to judge the quality of written text which varies in fluency (through the manipulation of font, figure-ground contrast, or facial feedback). Disfluent content was judged higher quality when it was thought to come from a source focused on conveying information than one designed to maximize enjoyment (Studies 1-3). A field experiment (Study 4) confirmed this relationship: when people are not pursuing enjoyment, a disfluent advertisement is actually more effective.


Galak, Jeff, Joseph Redden, and Justin Kruger (2009), “Variety Amnesia: Recalling Past Variety Can Accelerate Recovery From Satiation,”  Journal of Consumer Research, 36 (December), 575-584 .[Paper]  [SSRN]

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Consumers often overindulge and satiate. Although time and variety tend to help recover this lost enjoyment, we propose that feelings of satiation are constructed, in part, based on salient past experiences at the time of evaluation. Four experiments demonstrate this across three domains: social interaction, music, and food. We show that by making related intervening experiences salient, recovery from satiation for an initially satiated stimulus is accelerated. We develop a theoretical account of this phenomenon and provide some prescriptive measures for both marketers and consumers.


Nelson, Leif D., Tom Meyvis, and Jeff Galak (2009),   “Enhancing the Television Viewing Experience through Commercial Interruptions,” Journal of Consumer Research, 36 (August), 160-172. [Paper] [SSRN]

Runner up for JCR Paper of the Year – 2009

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Consumers prefer to watch television programs without commercials. Yet, in spite of most consumers’ extensive experience with watching television, we propose that commercial interruptions can actually improve the television viewing experience. Although consumers do not foresee it, their enjoyment diminishes over time. Commercial interruptions can disrupt this adaptation process and restore the intensity of consumers’ enjoyment. Six studies demonstrate that, although people preferred to avoid commercial interruptions, these interruptions actually made programs more enjoyable (study 1), regardless of the quality of the commercial (study 2), even when controlling for the mere presence of the ads (study 3), and regardless of the nature of the interruption (study 4). However, this effect was eliminated for people who are less likely to adapt (study 5), and for programs that do not lead to adaptation (study 6), confirming the underlying process and identifying crucial boundaries of the effect.


Kruger, Justin, Jeff Galak, and Jeremy Burrus (2007), “When Consumers’ Self-image Motives Fail,” Journal of Consumer Psychology, 17 (4), 250-253. [Paper]

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Self-image motives and “sacrosanct beliefs” are powerful motivators of consumer judgment and decision making. The sacrosanct belief that one is rational, for instance, can cause consumers to justify seemingly unwise economic decisions. This article outlines some of the occasions when self-image motives appear to fail. For instance, although consumers occasionally pat themselves on the back for making questionable purchase decisions, at other times they find fault in perfectly reasonable ones. These and other recent findings provide an exception to the more general rule outlined by Dunning (2007).


Book Chapters


Nelson, Leif D., Terry F. Pettijohn, and Jeff Galak (2007), “Mate Preferences in Social Cognitive Context: When Environmental and Personal Change Leads to Predictable Cross-cultural Variation,” in Body Beautiful: Evolutionary and Sociocultural Perspectives , ed. Viren Swami and Adrian Furnham, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillian, 185-208. [Book]


Manuscripts under review and revision


Yang, Yang, Carey Morewedge, & Jeff Galak, “When Good Things Come to an End: The Trajectory of Desire for Consummatory Stimuli When Access is Lost,” revising for invited re-submission to the Journal of Marketing Research.

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The present research examined the trajectory of desire for lost goods. Specifically, this research examined the forecasted and experienced trajectory of desire for a consummatory good once access has been lost to it. In lab and field studies examining responses to the end of a National Football League (NFL) season and to lost access to candy, consumers forecasted that their desire for those goods would remain constant, whereas their experienced desire for those goods quickly dissipated (Studies 1 and 2). This discrepancy manifests because of a failure of forecasters to appreciate that desire dissipates when attention is diverted away from the lost good (Study 3). Forecasted desire for a lost good was insensitive to the attentional constraints imposed by a subsequent experience, whereas experienced desire for a lost good was moderated by those attentional constraints.


Perfecto, Hannah, Jeff Galak, Leif D. Nelson and Joseph P. Simmons (2016). “Rejecting a Bad Option Feels like Choosing a Good One”. Under review at the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

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People tend to think that their preferences are more typical than they really are. This false consensus effect (FCE) emerges, in part, because people are confident in their own preferences, and adjust relatively little for information about others. If people feel less confident in their preferences amongst negative alternatives the FCE would reduce when considering aversive decisions. Three studies confirmed that this was true for losses relative to gains (Study 1) and for judgments of unattractive faces relative to attractive faces (Study 2). Furthermore, when the task was reframed as a rejection, people were more confident about preferences amongst unattractive options, and showed a larger FCE (Study 3).


Working Papers


Galak, Jeff and Julian Givi. When Gift Giving is Selfish: A Motivation to be Unique. [Materials and Data]

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Gift givers are faced with the difficult task of choosing gifts that will be liked by gift recipients, and the challenging nature of this task often leads gift givers to unintentionally give poor gifts. The results of seven lab and field studies across 1,513 participants suggest that this failure on the part of gift givers is not always unintentional. Rather, it seems that gift givers possess a need for uniqueness and that this longing often leads them to knowingly give poor gifts. The present research demonstrates a robust effect in which gift givers, in some contexts, give gift recipients inferior gifts, because gift givers have a selfish motive in that they want their own possessions to feel unique. Conversely, when given the opportunity to choose between gifts for the self, gift recipients ignore this need for uniqueness in favor of obtaining an optimal gift. This effect holds across a variety of gifts, and gift-giving paradigms.


Galak, Jeff and Rosalind Chow. Variations on Injustice: Explicit, Emotional, and Behavioral Responses to When Good (Bad) Things Happen to Bad (Good) People  [Paper] [Materials and Data]

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People, in general, have a desire to live in a just world, a place where good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. And yet, injustices do occur: good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. Do people view these injustices as equally unjust, and how do they respond to these injustices? Across five experiments and more than 1,100 participants, we show that whereas people state a greater injustice has transpired when a bad thing happens to a good person, they are more willing to act in a justice-restorative manner when the opposite occurs, when a good thing happens to bad person. This difference occurs due to stronger emotional responses to injustices of this type. Moreover, we document the underlying psychological mechanisms that drive the differences between explicit, emotional, and behavioral responses to the two types of injustices.


Galak, Jeff, Justin Kruger, and Paul Rozin, “Not In My Backyard: The Influence of Symbolic Boundaries on Consumer Choice,”[SSRN]

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The present research demonstrates that symbolic boundaries such as political borders act as psychological buffers. In experiments 1-3, shoppers avoided crossing a town border to reach a store, even though doing so did not result in a shorter trip. In Experiments 4-6, consumers felt protected from a potentially hazardous environmental feature (experiment 4 and 5) and isolated from a potentially beneficial one (experiment 6) if it was on the other side of a political border—even when the border was clearly only symbolic (experiment 5). Discussion focuses on the source, scope, and implications of these findings.


Research in progress


Hedgcock, William, Joseph Redden, and Jeff Galak, “The Neural Correlates of Satiation”

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Hedgcock, William, Joseph Redden, and Jeff Galak, “The Neural Correlates of Satiation”


Galak, Jeff Karim Kassam, and Joseph Redden, “Predicting the longevity of music”

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Galak, Jeff Karim Kassam, and Joseph Redden, “Predicting the longevity of music”


Galak, Jeff and Edith Shalev, “Watching a Timer Makes the Good Times Worse: How Expectations of Completion Impact In Experience Affect.”


Nelson, Leif D., Jeff Galak, and Joachim Vosgerau, “The Unexpected Enjoyment of Expected Events: The Ill-fated Pursuit of Excitement in Watching Televised Sporting Events.”

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Sometimes uncertain events are more exciting than their certain alternatives. Across four studies, we examined when the emotional antecedents of uncertainty (anxiety and excitement) contributed to the enjoyment of watching televised sports (basketball and European handball). Live events feel more uncertain than identical taped events, and are more enjoyable to watch (Study 1). Nevertheless, eliminating uncertainty by telling viewers who will win does not decrease enjoyment, but betting on the game, which increases anxiety, increases enjoyment (Study 2). In addition, if the game “process” is clarified by informing consumers about every play immediately before it occurs, enjoyment goes up (Study 3), but this pattern of results is reversed when people wager on the outcome of the game (Study 4). We discuss these results in terms of the consumption of mixed emotions, and the moderating role of gambling.