Hedonic Evaluation over Short and Long Retention Intervals: The Mechanism of the Peak-End Rule

Xiaowei Geng, Ziguang Chen, Kwok Yee Wing Lam, Quanquan Zheng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


The peak-end rule is used to explain how people make retrospective hedonic evaluations. This study advances our understanding of its mechanism by identifying the different effects of the rule on such evaluations over short and long retention intervals. The results of two experiments show that (i) respondents constructed their retrospective hedonic evaluations on the basis of the peak and end affects only over a short retention interval, not over a long one; and (ii) respondents relied on episodic information to construct their evaluations over a short retention interval, whereas they relied on both semantic and episodic information to construct their evaluations over a long retention interval. Our study also suggests that the "watershed" between short and long retention intervals is likely to lie between 3 and 7weeks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-236
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2013


  • Hedonic evaluation
  • Long retention interval
  • Mechanism
  • Short retention interval
  • The peak-end rule
  • Watershed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management

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