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The Old Good Days?

T1TaTEs1MA2zasqaTJofW30csVMd6x5rPr6ndlFuG4ZKAQAA6wAAAEpQ_260x196When you think of the old days, do you feel they are all good? But some old days are not actually good as you think. Carey Morewedge from Carnegie Mellon University found that when people evaluate their past, they prefer to remember the positive experiences, creating biased ‘nostalgic preferences’.

Morewedge is an associate professor of marketing and the BP Junior Faculty Chair at CMU’s Tepper School of Business. He explained:” No matter you are evaluating the past or the present, the positive experiences are always the first to appear. However, comparing with evaluating the present, it is more difficult for us to think of those unpleasant days when we are reviewing the old days. Memory is like a record store that sells both new songs and old ones, good or bad, but it will only keep the most classic old songs. Simply because we used to forget the unpleasant experiences in the past, people usually tend to be nostalgic towards past events.”

In this research, Morewedge analyzed people’s rating on television shows and movies of the past and present and he found that when evaluating the general category, those from long ago were consistently given positive comments.

When asked to recall the specific examples, the participants cite popular shows from both today and several years ago and these shows are similarly good—most often their favorites. Significantly though, the participants preferred to evaluate past shows based on their favorite examples, which didn’t happen when they evaluate the present. These findings will help people optimize business practices.

“We always believe that the past was better than the present, and this may result in our rejection of the changes that are often for the better,” noted Morewedge. “This research suggests that when people are making a transition to new approaches of doing things, both in life and work, they are needed to be reminded of all the ways in the past could be improved.”

The positive transitions could cover all aspects in life and work, from encouraging employee to accept modern technological improvements or trying to work with greater diversity in the workforce. In addition, this finding could also help marketing professionals to better understand how customer preferences could change over time.

A previous study of Morewedge reveals that people will rely on atypical memories to predict whether they will enjoy a similar experience in future. For instance, a man may decide whether to watch the next week’s ball game based on some recollection of the most exciting game in last season. Morewege believes that this bias in memory may also lead us to judge that experiences in old days are better than those in the present.

ReferenceCMU,The Good Old Days?

Image sourceShutterstock

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