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Societal reminiscence and decisions for a better society: A belief in progress explanation

Kwan, Canice M.C.; Cheng, Shirley Y.Y.; Tsang, Alex S.L.


Shirley Y.Y. Cheng

Alex S.L. Tsang


This research investigates how reminiscing a society's past can encourage risk taking for the society. In one field study and four experiments, we show that encountering objects or appeals linked to their society's past can lead individuals to become more risk taking and to choose less certain but potentially better options in decisions for society. This effect is mitigated when the reminiscence concerns one's personal past and when the decisions concern personal welfare. It can also be mitigated by heightening or suppressing the belief that society has progressed. Our findings validate belief in progress as a novel explanation, suggesting that the thoughts evoked in reminiscence supplement their emotional counterparts such as nostalgic and upbeat feelings in altering how decisions are made. This investigation has pragmatic implications for designing past-linked appeals in advertising and branding as well as in advocacy for social change or innovation.


Kwan, C. M., Cheng, S. Y., & Tsang, A. S. (2023). Societal reminiscence and decisions for a better society: A belief in progress explanation. Journal of Business Research, 154, Article 113365.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 6, 2022
Online Publication Date Oct 29, 2022
Publication Date 2023-01
Deposit Date Jan 31, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 31, 2023
Journal Journal of Business Research
Print ISSN 0148-2963
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 154
Article Number 113365
Keywords Marketing
Public URL
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