Hedonic Contrast and Condensation: Good Stimuli Make Mediocre Stimuli Less Good and Less Different
Loud sounds make soft sounds softer (contrast) and also make them less discriminable (which we call condensation). We report on parallel phenomena in hedonics: Good stimuli reduce the pleasantness of less good stimuli, and also reduce people's preferences among the less good stimuli. In Experiment 1, subjects rated the pleasantness of fruit juices diluted to approximate hedonic neutrality. Subjects who had just previously drunk and rated some good-tasting full-strength juices rated the diluted juices lower than did subjects who had not (hedonic contrast). In Experiment 2, subjects drank pairs of diluted juices and rated their preference for one juice over the other. Subjects who had just previously drunk and rated pairs of full-strength juices gave lower preference ratings between the diluted juices than did subjects who had not (condensation). Thus the same stimulus set produced contrast in Experiment 1 and condensation in Experiment 2, paralleling results in loudness.
MSU Digital Commons Citation
Zellner, Debra; Allen, Dawn; Henley, Monique; and Parker, Scott, "Hedonic Contrast and Condensation: Good Stimuli Make Mediocre Stimuli Less Good and Less Different" (2006). Department of Psychology Faculty Scholarship and Creative Works. 250.