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Packing your troubles away actually works, study finds

Date:
March 25, 2010
Source:
University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management
Summary:
Finding it hard to get over a failed love interest? Just can't get details of a bad financial move out of your head? A new study suggests you might want to stick something related to your disappointment in a box or envelope if you want to feel better.

Finding it hard to get over a failed love interest? Just can't get details of a bad financial move out of your head?

A new study from the Rotman School of Management suggests you might want to stick something related to your disappointment in a box or envelope if you want to feel better. In four separate experiments researchers found that the physical act of enclosing materials related to an unpleasant experience, such as a written recollection about it, improved people's negative feelings towards the event and created psychological closure. Enclosing materials unrelated to the experience did not work as well.

"If you tell people, 'You've got to move on,' that doesn't work," said Dilip Soman, who holds the Corus Chair in Communication Strategy at the Rotman School and is also a professor of marketing, who co-wrote the paper with colleagues Xiuping Li from the National University of Singapore and Liyuan Wei from City University of Hong Kong. "What works is when people enclose materials that are relevant to the negative memories they have. It works because people aren't trying to explicitly control their emotions."

While the market implications might not be immediately obvious, Prof. Soman believes the findings point to new angles on such things as fast pick-up courier services and pre-paid mortgage deals that relieve people's sense of debt burden. If people realize that the memory of past events or tasks can be distracting, perhaps there is a market for products and services that can enclose or take away memories of that task.

The paper Is to be published in Psychological Science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Xiuping Li, Liyuan Wei, Dilip Soman. Sealing the Emotions Genie: The Effects of Physical Enclosure on Psychological Closure. Psychological Science, 2010;

Cite This Page:

University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management. "Packing your troubles away actually works, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100324113420.htm>.
University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management. (2010, March 25). Packing your troubles away actually works, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100324113420.htm
University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management. "Packing your troubles away actually works, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100324113420.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

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