A Variety of Explanations For Variety-Seeking Behaviors: Physiological Needs, Memory Processes, and Primed Rules

Rebecca Ratner, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Don Lehmann, Columbia University

A Variety of Explanations for Variety-Seeking Behaviors:  Physiological Needs, Memory Processes, and Primed Rules


High Satiety: The Effect of Sensory-Specific Satiety on Choice

J. Jeffrey Inman (University of Pittsburgh), Zata Vickers (University of Minnesota), and Andrea S. Maier (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique)


The goal of our research is to explore the attributes of food products that drive switching. Specifically, we build upon Johnson and Vickers (1992) to examine crossover effects of sensory-specific satiety (a temporary reduction in liking of a food following consumption of that food) as a function of the similarity between the consumed flavor and the target flavor. We also extend Inman’s work (2001) by directly assessing the role of sensory-specific satiety and crossover effects on subsequent flavor choice. We test our hypotheses in two product categories in both experimental and field contexts.


Retrospective Preference for Variety:  An Ease of Retrieval Perspective

Michelle Lee (Singapore Management University), Barbara Kahn (University of Pennsylvania), and Susheela Varghese (Singapore Management University)


This research demonstrates that preference for variety in memory as opposed to real-time evaluation extends to situations where variety comes about, not as a result of choosing a sequence of options (e.g., Ratner, Kahn & Kahneman 1999), as is typical of studies in variety-seeking behavior, but as a result of varied features contained within an option. We hypothesize that ease of retrieval is the underlying process that accounts for the advantage accruing to the high-variety option in memory. People use the ease of information retrieval as a cue for their preferences or attitudes.  Three studies provide support for the predictions.


Variety vs. Consistency Seeking: A Matter of the Primed Rule

Rebecca K. Ratner (University of North Carolina), Ying Zhang University of Chicago) and Ayelet Fishbach (University of Chicago)


When do people make subsequent consumption choices that are similar versus dissimilar to an initial choice?  We argue that the amount of variety people incorporate depends on the mental rule that is accessible.  This rule could associate either variety or repetitiveness with being a “good choice.”  In three studies we find that priming these mental rules – “variety is good” (i.e., open-minded, interesting) or “consistency is good” (i.e., loyal, committed) – influences subsequent choice.  These mental rules activate a specific choice criterion, either variety or consistency, which is then applied to actual choice with minimal deliberation or conscious awareness.
[ to cite ]:
Rebecca Ratner and Don Lehmann (2006) ,"A Variety of Explanations For Variety-Seeking Behaviors: Physiological Needs, Memory Processes, and Primed Rules", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 33, eds. Connie Pechmann and Linda Price, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 529-531.