The Spice of Life: Effects of Mortality Anxiety on Preference For Variety

Daniel Fernandes, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Naomi Mandel, Arizona State University, USA
Dirk Smeesters, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands
When confronted with the threat of death, consumers actively try to buffer themselves against this anxiety. Across three experiments, we show that mortality salience enhances variety seeking by triggering exploratory behavior (study 1), and variety seeking on a simultaneous choice task (study 2) and a sequential choice task (study 3). Moreover, study 3 shows that the effect of mortality salience on variety seeking occurs only among consumers with a primed liberal mindset but not among those with a primed conservative mindset. We argue that seeking unrestrained freedom by choosing more variety is a way to buffer oneself against the threat of death. Liberals show stronger mortality salience effects than conservatives because they are more open to experiencing novelties.
[ to cite ]:
Daniel Fernandes, Naomi Mandel, and Dirk Smeesters (2010) ,"The Spice of Life: Effects of Mortality Anxiety on Preference For Variety", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 254-258 .