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The Comfort Food Fallacy: Avoiding Old Favorites in Times of Change

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  • Stacy Wood
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    Abstract

    Consumers hold a common intuition about their preferences for familiar things (e.g., "comfort food") in times of upheaval. This lay theory holds that familiar goods are attractive as a respite from dynamic environments and reflects a naive prediction that familiar favorites ameliorate the cognitive or emotional load associated with change. Conversely, the research in this article finds that consumers are more rather than less likely to choose novel options during times of upheaval and suggests that this paradox may occur because of the discrepancy between consumers' strategic lay theories and more automatic mind-set influences. Five studies demonstrate (1) that the comfort food fallacy effect occurs for both food and nonfood choices (despite consumer predictions to the contrary), (2) that increasing consumers' perception of life change decreases choice of familiar favorites, and (3) that the effect disappears with high involvement. Understanding this paradox of comfort consumption may help both consumers and marketers promote positive change and innovation adoption. (c) 2009 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc..

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    Bibliographic Info

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

    Volume (Year): 36 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 6 (04)
    Pages: 950-963

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jconrs:v:36:y:2010:i:6:p:950-963

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    Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JCR/

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    Cited by:
    1. Bublitz, Melissa G. & Peracchio, Laura A. & Andreasen, Alan R. & Kees, Jeremy & Kidwell, Blair & Miller, Elizabeth Gelfand & Motley, Carol M. & Peter, Paula C. & Rajagopal, Priyali & Scott, Maura L. &, 2013. "Promoting positive change: Advancing the food well-being paradigm," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(8), pages 1211-1218.
    2. Litt, Ab & Reich, Taly & Maymin, Senia & Shiv, Baba, 2010. "Pressure and Perverse Flights to Familiarity," Research Papers 2073, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    3. Reitmeier, Martina & Roosen, Jutta, 2014. "Life Transitions and Food Choice Behavior in Older Adults: How Changes in Social Relationships are Linked to Changes in Brand Preferences," 2014 AAEA/EAAE/CAES Joint Symposium: Social Networks, Social Media and the Economics of Food, May 29-30, 2014, Montreal, Canada 166111, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Canadian Agricultural Economics Society;European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    4. Drescher, Larissa S. & Hasselbach, Johanna, 2014. "Food Choices under Stress: Considering Internet Usage and Social Support," 2014 AAEA/EAAE/CAES Joint Symposium: Social Networks, Social Media and the Economics of Food, May 29-30, 2014, Montreal, Canada 166097, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Canadian Agricultural Economics Society;European Association of Agricultural Economists.

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