HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Thornton Bradshaw Professor of Public Policy, Decision Science, and Management


Sadness increases how much decision makers pay to acquire goods, even when decision makers are unaware of it. This effect is coined the “misery-is-not-miserly effect”. The paper that first established this effect is the second most-cited article appearing in Psychological Science in 2004. In light of its impact, the present study sought to assess whether the misery-is-not-miserly effect would replicate (a) in a novel context and (b) even when another way of alleviating a sense of loss (i.e., compensatory consumption) was available. Results revealed that the effect replicated in the novel context and, despite a prediction otherwise, even when individuals had an opportunity to engage in compensatory consumption. Moreover, a meta-analysis of the original effect and that observed in the present study yielded a small-to-medium effect (Cohen’s d = 0.43). As such, the present study lends evidentiary support to the misery-is-not-miserly effect and provides impetus for future research exploring the impact of sadness on consumer decision-making, specifically, and of emotion on decision processes, more generally.


Garg, Nitika, Lisa A. Williams, and Jennifer S. Lerner. "The Misery-Is-Not-Miserly Effect Revisited: Replication Despite Opportunities for Compensatory Consumption." PLoS ONE 13.6 (June 2018).