Stress can help or hinder novelty seeking: The role of consumer life history strategies

Justina Gineikiene, Bob M. Fennis, Dovile Barauskaite, Guido M. van Koningsbruggen

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Previous research shows mixed findings on whether stress increases or decreases novelty seeking. In three studies, using both archival and experimental data, and including more than 61,000 consumers from over 55 different countries, we show that it can do both, albeit for consumers differing in “life history strategies” (LHSs), that is, short-term, impulsive, and reward-sensitive (fast) versus long-term, reflective, and controlled (slow) strategies. We find that stress increases (helps) novelty seeking for fast, but decreases (hinders) novelty seeking for slow LHS consumers. Moreover, under baseline (low stress) conditions, fast LHS consumers display a lower tendency for novelty seeking than slow LHS consumers. Interestingly, these effects are present for acute stress but not for chronic (pandemic) stress. We discuss the implications of our findings for public policy and positioning strategies, specifying when and for whom novel (versus familiar) products and services might be most effectively and efficiently marketed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Research in Marketing
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9-Feb-2022

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