Abstract: Extraordinary Experiences

Triggers of Extraordinary Experiences Within A Sub-cultural Consumption Event

Jeffrey Allen, University of Central Florida, USA
Carolyn Massiah, University of Central Florida, USA
Robert Cascio, University of Central Florida, USA
Zachary Johnson, University of Central Florida, USA

Extraordinary experiences (EE’S) are extremely happy (Maslow 1961; 1970), highly enjoyable (Csikszentmihalyi 1990; 1997), and fully absorbing (Quarrick 1988) mental states of being that exceed consumers’ day-to-day levels of emotional intensity. There has been growing recognition (McAlexander and Schouten 1998; Schouten and McAlexander 1995) that extraordinary experiences are influential in the formation and maintenance of consumption communities (e.g., Kozinets 2001; McAlexander and Schouten 1998; McAlexander, Schouten, and Koenig 2002; Muniz and O’Guinn 2001; Muniz and Schau 2005; Oliver 1999). Extraordinary experiences involve absorbing, flow, and peak experiences. Privette (1983) demonstrates that peak and flow experiences have overlapping characteristics – included in these characteristics is absorption, which she describes as critical to full involvement and is “perhaps equally pertinent to enjoyment and peak experiences.” (Privette 1983, p. 1363).

In this study, we are not looking to differentiate between the three constructs – rather, we are looking at the common links between the three that tap into the construct of extraordinary experiences. The common characteristics between these constructs of interest to this study are happiness, enjoyment, fun, pleasure, involvement, and absorption (Privette 1983; Privette and Sherry 1986). To date, there is virtually no research on what facilitates extraordinary experiences in a consumption-related context. An understanding of what triggers extraordinary experiences would provide insight into consumption communities that goes beyond our current knowledge. The current study works to uncover triggers of extraordinary experiences.