"Work hard, play hard. Neuropsychological correlates and behavioral implications of hedonic compensation."
Leiden University - Social and Organizational Psychology
Prof.dr. Wilco van Dijk
Dr. Lotte van Dillen
Dr Mark Rotteveel
1 September 2016 - 30 August 2020
The current project examines the concept of hedonic compensation: consuming more of a hedonic good in order to compensate for reduced pleasure from its consumption. For example, when people have done a (mentally) taxing task, they tend to eat more, especially palatable foods. Previous research suggests this is mainly due to motivational processes, such as self-licensing (“I have invested effort, so I deserve a treat)”, or reduced cognitive control capacities (i.e., ego-depletion). We however argue that these effects occur because both task performance and subjective (sensory) experience compete over the same mental resources. As a consequence, people—experiencing mental load—need more and higher intensities of a hedonic good in order to obtain equal levels of pleasure. Previous research has moreover demonstrated that presenting people with desirable products of one type (e.g., chocolate) can enhance desire for attributes in another domain of hedonic consumption (e.g., alcohol). After we have laid out the basic mechanisms of hedonic compensation by looking at food consumption, we therefore expand our research to other domains in order to test the generalizability of our findings.