Valuing Calm Enhances Enjoyment of Calming (vs. Exciting) Amusement Park Rides and Exercise
Do people derive more enjoyment from activities that match how they ideally want to feel (their “ideal affect”)? Affect valuation theory (AVT) predicts that they do; however, no study has directly examined whether this is the case. Therefore, the authors conducted 4 studies that examined whether valuing calm and other low arousal positive states (LAP) increased enjoyment of calming (vs. exciting) activities. In Study 1, the more participants valued LAP, the more enjoyment they recalled during calming (vs. exciting) episodes from their lives. In Studies 2–3, the more participants valued LAP, the more enjoyment they experienced during calming (vs. exciting) amusement park rides, both in the United States and Hong Kong. To assess causality, in Study 4, participants were randomly assigned to either a “value LAP” or control condition and then engaged in either low or high intensity exercise. Participants in the value LAP condition who engaged in low intensity exercise reported greater enjoyment than those who engaged in high intensity exercise; these differences did not emerge in the control condition. People’s trait levels of experienced LAP (“actual LAP”) were not related to their enjoyment of calming (vs. exciting) activities. Together, these findings provide evidence that people derive more enjoyment from activities that match their ideal affect. The authors discuss the implications of these findings for AVT as well as interventions aimed at enhancing well-being.