Hedonic contrast and condensation: Good stimuli make mediocre stimuli less good and less different

Debra A. Zellner, Dawn Allen, Monique Henley, Scott Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-239
Number of pages5
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2006

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