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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1991 Jan;60(1):5-23.

Preferences for separating or combining events.

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Center for Decision Studies, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27706.


This research investigates people's preferences for temporally separating or combining emotionally impactful events. For instance, do people prefer to experience 2 negative events (e.g., manuscript rejections) on the same day or on different days? Do people prefer to experience 2 positive events (e.g., manuscript acceptances) on the same or different days? This article proposes a renewable resources model that combines elements of decision-making models (prospect theory) with the notion that people possess limited but renewable physiological, cognitive, and social resources for dealing with emotionally impactful events. As predicted, Ss preferred to separate 2 positive events (the gain-savoring hypothesis), to separate 2 negative events (the multiple-loss-avoidance hypothesis), and to combine a positive and a negative event (the loss-buffering hypothesis). Ss displayed identical preferences for events from the academic, financial, and social domains.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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