Why Do People Eat the Same Breakfast Every Day? Goals and Circadian Rhythms of Variety Seeking in Meals

Romain Cadario, Carey Morewedge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
145 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

People exhibit a circadian rhythm in the variety of foods they eat. Many people happily eat the same foods for breakfast day after day, yet seek more variety in the foods they eat for lunch and dinner. We identify psychological goals as a driver of this diurnal pattern of variety seeking, complementing other biological and cultural drivers. People are more likely to pursue hedonic goals for meals as the day progresses, which leads them to seek more variety for dinners and lunches than breakfasts. We find evidentiary support for our theory in studies with French and American participants (N = 4481) using diary data, event reconstruction methods, and experiments. Both endogenously and exogenously induced variation in hedonic goal activation modulates variety seeking in meals across days. Hedonic goal activation predicts variety seeking for meals when controlling for factors including time devoted to meal preparation and eating, the presence or absence of other people, and whether people ate a meal inside or outside their home. Goal activation also explain differences in time spent on meals, whereas increasing time spent on meals does not increase variety seeking. Finally, we observed that a similar increase in hedonic goal activation enacts a larger increase in variety seeking at breakfast than at lunch than at dinner, suggesting a diminishing marginal effect of hedonic goal activation on variety seeking.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105716
JournalAppetite
Volume168
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the NPD Group for providing the consumption data used in Study 1A. Before joining Rotterdam School of Management, R.C. received funding from the Susilo Institute for Ethics in the Global Economy, Questrom School of Business, Boston University .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

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