Carl Jung (1875-1961, Swiss psychiatrist) said, “Even a happy life brings some darkness and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not compensated by some sadness.” Human beings are comparison animals, whether we feel good or bad and to what extent are largely the products of comparing—our well being in relativity—against other people, e.g. I may feel rich when comparing with the poor Jack, but feel poor when comparing with the rich Bob; against other experiences, e.g. I may feel happy now when comparing with my sick periods, but I don’t feel particularly happy when comparing with my great moments; within an experience, e.g. flight without meals comparing the fun I have on Southwest is not that bad, I name the latest one as Intra-Experience Anchoring. Intra-Experience Anchoring is our interpretation from comparing real or invented facts within an experience; it suggests that the anchored (biased) experience will replace the actual (unbiased) experience, to determine the perceived pleasure or pain. In other words, what we feel within an experience is a relative rather than an actual pleasure or pain.
Human beings have a tendency to rationalize our behaviours and emotions. Psychologist Daniel Gilbert mentioned in his book Stumbling on Happiness, “The psychological immune system is a defensive system, when experiences make us feel sufficient unhappy, the psychological immune system cooks facts and shifts blame in order to offer us a more positive view. But it doesn’t do this every time we feel the slightest tingle of sadness, jealousy, anger or frustration.” We need more pain to activate our rationalization system. This concept is further supported by various research findings. Significant pains are needed in order to rationalize our suffering for something of great value.
Adopt this concept into business context. Suppose two restaurants are equally good in food quality, the first one you could go straight and have your seat, and the second one you’ve to queue up for 15 minutes. Most probably the second one will generate you a better perceived food quality (anchored pleasure) as you rationalize your pain to give yourself a good reason to queue up. When quality food is the predominant brand value, it is not only better, but necessary, to lower the performance on queue time (or it could be service, price, convenience, scenery, etc.). Our pains are well justified not only for a higher anchored (relative) pleasure, it releases the constraints so that the restaurant could reallocate the limited resources to what she does best—continuously to maintain and enhance the food quality, her true differentiator—resulting in a higher actual (absolute) pleasure and a more branded experience.