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Choosing Less-Preferred Experiences for the Sake of Variety


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  • Ratner, Rebecca K
  • Kahn, Barbara E
  • Kahneman, Daniel


Data from several experiments show that, contrary to traditional models of variety seeking, individuals choose to switch to less-preferred options even though they enjoy those items less than they would have enjoyed repeating a more-preferred option. Two explanations for this finding are tested. Results indicate no evidence of a benefit to more-preferred options due to the contrast to less-preferred alternatives. However, the results of three studies suggest that retrospective global evaluations favor varied sequences that also include less-preferred items as opposed to sequences that only include more-preferred items, even though these more varied sequences result in diminished enjoyment during consumption. Copyright 1999 by the University of Chicago.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Consumer Research.

Volume (Year): 26 (1999)
Issue (Month): 1 (June)
Pages: 1-15

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jconrs:v:26:y:1999:i:1:p:1-15

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Cited by:
  1. Ratner, Rebecca K. & Herbst, Kenneth C., 2005. "When good decisions have bad outcomes: The impact of affect on switching behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 23-37, January.
  2. Morgan Ward & Joseph Goodman & Julie Irwin, 2014. "The same old song: The power of familiarity in music choice," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 1-11, March.
  3. Mazursky, David & Vinitzky, Gideon, 2005. "Modifying consumer search processes in enhanced on-line interfaces," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 58(10), pages 1299-1309, October.
  4. Mark Heitmann & Andreas Herrmann & Christian Kaiser, 2007. "The effect of product variety on purchase probability," Review of Managerial Science, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 111-131, August.
  5. Nikolova, Milena S. & Hassan, Salah S., 2013. "Nation branding effects on retrospective global evaluation of past travel experiences," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(6), pages 752-758.
  6. Song Yoon & Kwanho Suk & Seon Lee & Eun Park, 2011. "To seek variety or uniformity: The role of culture in consumers’ choice in a group setting," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 49-64, March.
  7. Lord, Kenneth R. & Putrevu, Sanjay & Shi, Yi Zheng, 2008. "Cultural influences on cross-border vacationing," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 183-190, March.
  8. Arentze, T.A. & Timmermans, H.J.P., 2005. "Information gain, novelty seeking and travel: a model of dynamic activity-travel behavior under conditions of uncertainty," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 39(2-3), pages 125-145.
  9. Miljkovic, Dragan, 2005. "Rational choice and irrational individuals or simply an irrational theory: A critical review of the hypothesis of perfect rationality," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 621-634, October.
  10. Burbidge, Shaunna K & Goulias, Konstadinos G., 2008. "Active Travel Behavior," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt8hb09563, University of California Transportation Center.
  11. John Sedgwick & Michael Pokorny, 2010. "Consumers as risk takers: Evidence from the film industry during the 1930s," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 52(1), pages 74-99.
  12. Harper Roehm & Michelle Roehm, 2004. "Variety-Seeking and Time of Day: Why Leader Brands Hope Young Adults Shop in the Afternoon, but Follower Brands Hope for Morning," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 213-221, December.
  13. Hsee, Christopher K. & Rottenstreich, Yuval & Stutzer, Alois, 2012. "Suboptimal Choices and the Need for Experienced Individual Well-Being in Economic Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 6346, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Smith, Aaron C.T. & Stewart, Bob, 2010. "The special features of sport: A critical revisit," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 1-13, February.
  15. Handy, Susan & Weston, Lisa & Mokhtarian, Patricia L., 2005. "Driving by choice or necessity?," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 39(2-3), pages 183-203.
  16. Simona Botti & Susan Broniarczyk & Gerald Häubl & Ron Hill & Yanliu Huang & Barbara Kahn & Praveen Kopalle & Donald Lehmann & Joe Urbany & Brian Wansink, 2008. "Choice under restrictions," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 183-199, December.
  17. Larson, Ronald B., 2005. "Making Category Management More Practical," Journal of Food Distribution Research, Food Distribution Research Society, vol. 36(01), March.
  18. Gilbert, Daniel T. & Gill, Michael J. & Wilson, Timothy D., 2002. "The Future Is Now: Temporal Correction in Affective Forecasting," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 430-444, May.
  19. Guillermo De Haro, 2008. "Cuando una ´long tail´ no es suficiente," Working Papers Economia wpe08-16, Instituto de Empresa, Area of Economic Environment.
  20. Balabanis, George & Reynolds, Nina & Simintiras, Antonis, 2006. "Bases of e-store loyalty: Perceived switching barriers and satisfaction," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 214-224, February.
  21. Wu, Pei-Hsun & Kao, Danny Tengti, 2011. "Goal orientation and variety seeking behavior: The role of decision task," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 65-72, February.
  22. Munro, Alistair, 2003. "Public Goods and Private Wants: A Psychological Approach to Government Spending, Simon Kemp, Cheltenham, UK, Edward Elgar, 2002, p. 208, ISBN 1 84064 973 9, 49.95 Pounds, hardback," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 785-787, December.


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