People prefer familiarity to the excitement of novelty

In a recent study published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that people prefer old and familiar activities over hedonic ones that are new and exciting. This means that people may prefer to revisit a favorite place rather than explore a highly touted restaurant.

To date, several studies have pointed out that people are attracted to novelty. For example, choosing to read a new book or watch the latest movie. But the researchers’ analysis revealed that when deadlines are fast approaching and people have limited time, they automatically choose something old and familiar.

The researchers came to this conclusion after eight experiments with 6000 participants. They surveyed participants based on questions such as whether they would prefer to go to a familiar/old restaurant, re-read a favorite book, or try a new restaurant or book based on how much time people have left to enjoy experiences.

“Holding constant factors such as cost, availability, and convenience among obtaining such options, most of us would likely choose to enjoy movies that have not even been seen over desserts,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

“Now imagine the same dilemma with a slight difference: your free time this weekend happens to mark your last chance to watch a movie for a while (perhaps you’re approaching a particularly busy time at work) or similarly consume any movie at all. desserts (maybe you’re going on a diet); It changes your choice,” they added.

To answer this question, the researchers first asked 500 online participants and 663 college students to read about hypothetical situations where they were made to choose between a familiar experience and one filled with novelty. While half of them had to make only one choice, the other half were told to imagine that it would be their last chance to read or travel to another location. Unlike the control group, those in the “finishes” group overwhelmingly chose familiar and old experiences over brand new ones.

In their second experiment, they took it a step further and went beyond hypothetical real-life scenarios. Participants were given a gift card to visit any restaurant of their choice within a month. Again, the researchers told them to think about how the participants’ opportunities to visit restaurants might decrease after a month, and what factors might prevent them from eating out at a nice restaurant.

About 67% of people in the “final” group chose to go to a restaurant they had previously visited. While only 48% of participants in the control group chose a familiar restaurant.

“The research is particularly interesting because, on the surface, it goes against the bucket list idea that people tend to pursue innovation – things they’ve never done but always wanted to do – as they approach the end of life. . study author Ed O’Brien of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business said in a press release. “Here we find that, at least in these more everyday finishing contexts, people actually do the opposite. They want to end on a high note by ending on a familiar note.”

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