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EMAC 2020 Annual Conference

How positive and negative experiences of freedom foster consumer happiness

Published: May 27, 2020


Charlotte Gaston-Breton, ESCP Business School; Elin Sørensen, University of Southern Denmark; Thyra Thomsen, Copenhagen Business School


Experience; Freedom; Consumer happiness


This article focuses on consumers’ experiences of freedom as a source of happiness. In three studies (a multi-sensory sculpting study, a survey, and an experiment), we demonstrate the presence, meaning, and role of experiencing freedom through consumption and investigate how this fosters consumer happiness. The findings underscore the existence of negative and positive experiences of freedom in the everyday consumption of goods: respectively, “freedom from” worries and stress and “freedom to” be oneself and achieve self-realization. We show that negative experiences of “freedom from” are more likely to foster hedonic happiness while positive experiences of “freedom to” are more likely to foster eudaimonic happiness. This research provides a typology of consumer experiences likely to enhance affective or meaningful relationships between firms and customers and informs consumers about routes to happiness.