Towards the end, we resolutely toss our list in the trash: “People are more likely to make familiar choices.”
Changing food makes food. Psychologists know this, too. The fact that people prefer new and exciting things or activities over familiar ones is supported by professional literature. This usually includes choices with entertainment significance: a visit to a restaurant or coffee shop (and what you order), a travel destination (and the places you visit), but also your hobbies.
An explanation has been put forward that the “gratification of lust” is greater with novelties. Activities that we have not done before or things that we have not experienced yet grab our interest more strongly, and therefore we will enjoy them more. New experiences are also said to satisfy our curiosity, stimulate creativity, and leave a “pink trail in our memories,” according to a new study. Familiar things and activities, especially excessive repetition, threaten us with boredom.
There is another side to the story
But there is another side to the story. For it seems that the deciding factor is the time in which people have to pursue their own desires and desires. In other words, if this time is limited: at the end of the period when you can still choose between something new or something familiar, the preference completely changes. This is according to new research by two psychologists from the University of Chicago. Featured in this week’s professional magazine Journal of personality and social psychology .
The research shows how the science of impending doom affects our preferences and even defines what we want to do with the time we have left. That might sound exciting (reminds us of someone whose days are numbered), but of course we always see endings, like the end of summer, for a trip, but also for a quiet time (before a busy period at work) or a burgundy lifestyle (for dieting). Endings don’t have to be final.
In the study, nearly 6,000 people (college students, as with psychology studies, but also older people recruited online) were asked about their preference for recreational activities, and their familiar or new interpretations. This occurred in eight different sub-experiments. In one, the psychologists, who had already begun their research at the end of 2019, tapped into gratitude for the shutdowns that also brought public life to a standstill in the United States — and which also ended.
The imminent end makes people think about what is meaningful to them
Each time the subjects were divided into a group where there was an imminent end, and a control group where there was no. In one experiment, participants were able to receive a restaurant voucher, but not before completing a thinking exercise. In it, one group was reminded of the limited time they could have for dinner outside, and the control group was told that this time was unlimited. Nearly 70 percent of the first group chose a coupon at a trusted restaurant, while less than half of the other group chose it. For the critics: The so-called tamper check ensures that participants in the first group really do consider limited time when choosing a restaurant voucher.
And now you know why, for example, on the weekend before October 19, 2020, when a new closure began, you ran quickly to your favorite pub
The study findings go against the idea of a bucket list, a list full of new things you still want to do in your life. Psychologists understand this. “In a descending context, we see the opposite: people are more likely to make familiar choices,” they say in a press release from the American Psychological Association.
In it, psychologists also explain why this happens. The imminent end makes people think about what is meaningful to them. They are often very familiar with these things. The researchers wrote that people like to end up beautifully, positively—a familiar note, in other words. And now you know why, for example, on the weekend before October 19, 2020, when a new closure began, you ran so quickly to your favorite pub.
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