Crush on you: Romantic crushes increase consumers’ preferences for strong sensory stimuli

Xun Huang*, Ping Dong, Meng Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


What influences consumers’ preferences for strong versus weak sensory stimuli? In this article, we find converging evidence that when the experience of a romantic crush is salient, consumers have an enhanced preference for options that elicit strong sensory stimulation (e.g., loud music, strongly flavored food). We demonstrate this effect across seven studies using a broad array of products and services as stimuli. We further show that these consumers have a heightened motivation to achieve greater sensations from the desired person, but cannot act in a way that directly satisfies this motivation, leading them to be more likely to turn to products and services for the desired sensations. Moreover, we find that the effect is specific to the experience of a romantic crush and cannot be generalized to other interpersonal experiences (e.g., passionate love, stable romantic relationship, unmet sexual desire).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-68
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • Interpersonal relationship
  • Romantic crush
  • Sensations
  • Sensory intensity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

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