yang yang

Sentimental Value

Imagine two scenarios—a bicycle you purchased for yourself and a bicycle you received from a loved one. Under which of these two scenarios would the bicycle be more meaningful to you?

Warrington marketing professor Yang Yang, along with Carnegie Mellon University’s Jeff Galak, explored this question in her newest research exploring sentimental value, providing gift-givers some reassurance that their generosity is impactful.

Study/Journal: Sentimental Value and Its Influence on Hedonic Adaptation/Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Major finding: First, the usefulness of an object may decrease over time, but that object’s sentimental value does not. Second, objects that have sentimental value are less likely to exhibit “hedonic adaptation,” or a decrease in happiness or enjoyment in using that object.

Details: Yang conducted seven studies that compared consumers’ happiness over time with products that had high versus low sentimental value.

Takeaway: There is something special about sentimental value. Said Yang: “We provide another, easily actionable way in which people can remain happy with the things that they have: Invest in sentimental experiences that imbue objects with sentimental value. Because the benefit from sentimental value seems to seldom fade, doing so may be a way to stave off the detrimental consequences of hedonic adaptation.”

Yang Yang

Assistant Professor, Marketing

Research focus

Consumer experience, consumer judgment and decision making, hedonic adaptation and satiation, sentimental value, and motivation.


Ph.D. in Marketing, Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, 2015

M.S. in Marketing, Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, 2011

M.S. in Management, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 2008

B.A. in International Business, Shandong University, China, 2005


Named a Fellow at the American Marketing Association-Sheth Foundation Doctoral Consortium, the marketing discipline’s premier consortium, in 2013.