Here’s a Halloween question: Is the child who receives a candy bar and a piece of gum happier than the child who receives only a candy bar?
NPR reports on a study by Dartmouth’s George Wolford and colleagues Amy Doe and Alexander Rupert that focused on a group of children’s Halloween-night rewards and their overall impressions.
Wolford, chair of the education department and the Lincoln Filene Professor Emeritus of Psychological and Brain Sciences, tells NPR that the child whose lasting impression is of a big treat is happier about the experience than the child who receives a big treat and then a small one.
What’s key here is the order in which the treats are received, NPR reports. “With the Halloween candy study, the kids got the great treat first and then a lesser treat afterward.” Wolford tells NPR that “what you’re judging is the trajectory. With positive goods, if I’m going from a nice treat to a lesser treat, the trajectory is going the wrong way.”
Listen to the full story, broadcast 10/31/13 on NPR.