Romantic Crushes Promote Variety-Seeking Behavior

Xun (Irene) Huang*, Ping Dong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Consumers making repeat consumption choices often need to decide whether to stick to their favorite option or to select something different. Understanding the situational factors that influence their willingness to seek more or less variety in consumption is of both theoretical and practical importance. The current research proposes that a salient relationship state—romantic crush—can increase consumers' variety-seeking tendency in unrelated consumption situations. Building on the compensatory consumption literature, we suggest that the lack of reciprocal response in the romantic crush experience may lower consumers' sense of control in the romantic relationship. Therefore, they are motivated to restore their sense of control by making more varied choices in consumption domains. Five studies provide support for this hypothesis. In line with our control-restoration account, the effect disappears when consumers' sense of control is boosted via other means. Moreover, the effect is specific to the experience of a romantic crush and cannot be generalized to other types of romantic relationship (e.g., initial stage of love).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-242
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • Emotion
  • Relationship
  • Romantic crush
  • Sense of control
  • Variety seeking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing


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