Circles, squares, and choice: The effect of shape arrays on uniqueness and variety seeking

Michal Maimaran*, S. Christian Wheeler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Five experiments demonstrate that exposure to novel visual stimulus arrays of geometric shapes affects consumers' real choices among products. The authors first demonstrate that exposure to variety arrays (arrays of differing shapes) increases variety seeking (Study 1). They then show that exposure to uniqueness arrays (e.g., one circle among six squares) increases choice of unique over common objects (Studies 2 and 3) and interacts with chronic need for uniqueness (Study 3). In the final two studies, the authors show that variety and uniqueness arrays activate distinct constructs; specifically, they find no effect of exposure to uniqueness arrays on variety seeking (Study 4a) and no effect of exposure to variety arrays on uniqueness seeking (Study 4b). Taken together, these studies build on the existing literature about nonconscious effects on consumer behavior and choice behavior in particular by showing that consumers' real choices are affected by subtle exposure to novel stimuli that do not have any previous associations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)731-740
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Choice
  • Nonconscious effects
  • Uniqueness
  • Variety seeking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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