Gus Cooney.

The unforeseen costs of extraordinary experience


Cooney, G.
Gilbert, D. T.,
Wilson, T. D.


Cooney, G., Gilbert, D. T., & Wilson, T. D. (2014). The unforeseen costs of extraordinary experience.Psychological Science,25, 2259–2265.

People expect extraordinary experiences, like drinking rare wines or exotic vacations, to be delightful, but a less obvious consequence of such extraordinary experiences is that they can make people different from others, and this can impact their conversations. Across several experiments, participants predicted that they would be better offiftheyhad a great experience (e.g., watching an interesting video) rather than a mediocre experience (e.g., watching an ordinary video)even when they knew that they would later converse with a group of participants who had all had the ordinaryexperience.

These predictions turned out to be wrong. Although participants who had a great experience did indeed enjoy it, they later felt excluded by their conversation partners—and the unanticipated pain of exclusion was greater than the pleasure of having a great experience. Extraordinary experiences have both benefits and costs, and our studies show that the immediate hedonic benefits are obvious to most people, but the subsequent conversational costs are more difficult to anticipate

Interests & hobbies

Embarking on adventures through skiing, immersing myself in diverse cultures through rugs and textiles, and finding serenity in the art of surfing – these are the passion that shape my life.