Sick of the same old thing? Researchers finds satiation solution

May 19, 2009

Have you ever gotten sick of pizza, playing the same computer game, or had a song stuck in your head for so long you never wanted to hear it again? If you have, you may suffer from variety amnesia. In new research, Joseph Redden, professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, may have found a cure for your satiation blues.

"People forget about the abundance of different experiences they have had and tend to focus on the repetition," said Redden. "Simply thinking about the variety of songs they have listened to or meals they have eaten will make people enjoy the activity again."

Satiation, the process of consuming products and experiences to the point where they are less enjoyable, is a big problem for consumers and retailers. In the past, time and variety have been seen as the only ways to cure satiation. In their new article forthcoming in the , Redden and co-authors find that just recalling variety may cure satiation faster. "Intuition says that if time passes we will like something again: we call this 'spontaneous recovery,' " said Redden. "This isn't the whole story. People don't fully recover on their own with the mere passage of time. If I'm sick of , simply thinking about all the other desserts I've had since the last time I had chocolate helps cure my satiation. Time doesn't seem to do that very well."

In one of the three studies conducted for this research, Redden and his co-authors asked participants to listen to the chorus of a favorite song 20 times in a row. Then they were asked to rate the clip. Not surprisingly, after 20 repetitions their enjoyment of the song dropped a great deal. Three weeks later, the participants came back and half were asked to recall any television shows they'd seen since the study, while the other half listed all of the musicians they'd listened to since the first session. The group that listed the TV shows was still just as satiated - they didn't like the song. However, those recalling variety in the music category almost totally recovered. "The participants' comments were the most revealing," said Redden. "Those who recalled the TV shows were actually angry to have a song they like 'ruined,' but the ones who recalled musicians enjoyed taking a study with music, etc. If something seems like 'more of the same,' people are just less interested."

Satiation is a friction. It prevents people from enjoying favorite activities and it prevents retailers from gaining repeat business. "The solution to satiation is to take the time to appreciate all the variety you have," said Redden. "The recommendation is straightforward: if consumers wish to keep enjoying their favorite experiences, then they should simply think of all the other related experiences they have recently had. So next time you get sick of healthy smoothies and think about grabbing a burger instead, try to recall all of the other drinks you have had since your last smoothie. Our findings suggest this will make your smoothie taste just a little bit better."

More information: The paper "Variety Amnesia: Recalling Past Variety Can Accelerate Recovery from Satiation," forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research was co-authored by Jeff Galak (Carnegie Mellon) and Justin Kruger (NYU).

Source: University of Minnesota (news : web)

Explore further: Why are UK teenagers skipping school?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Trying to stay on a strict diet? Focus on the details

Jan 08, 2008

Repetition usually makes people enjoy things less. Such satiation causes our favorites to lose their sheen, makes it hard to follow a diet, and pushes us to escalate our spending on novelty. Life has even been called a “hedonic ...

Remember that time? New study demystifies consumer memory

Jan 26, 2009

If a vacation starts out bad and gets better, you'll have a more positive memory than if it starts out good and gets worse—if you're asked about it right afterward, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Re ...

Recommended for you

Why are UK teenagers skipping school?

Dec 18, 2014

Analysis of the results of a large-scale survey reveals the extent of truancy in English secondary schools and sheds light on the mental health of the country's teens.

Fewer lectures, more group work

Dec 18, 2014

Professor Cees van der Vleuten from Maastricht University is a Visiting Professor at Wits University who believes that learning should be student centred.

How to teach all students to think critically

Dec 18, 2014

All first year students at the University of Technology Sydney could soon be required to take a compulsory maths course in an attempt to give them some numerical thinking skills. ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ZenaV
not rated yet May 20, 2009
LOL! Yeah, I stay on the computer too much...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.