Rituals enhance consumption

Psychol Sci. 2013 Sep;24(9):1714-21. doi: 10.1177/0956797613478949. Epub 2013 Jul 17.


Four experiments tested the novel hypothesis that ritualistic behavior potentiates and enhances ensuing consumption--an effect found for chocolates, lemonade, and even carrots. Experiment 1 showed that participants who engaged in ritualized behavior, compared with those who did not, evaluated chocolate as more flavorful, valuable, and deserving of behavioral savoring. Experiment 2 demonstrated that random gestures do not boost consumption as much as ritualistic gestures do. It further showed that a delay between a ritual and the opportunity to consume heightens enjoyment, which attests to the idea that ritual behavior stimulates goal-directed action (to consume). Experiment 3 found that performing a ritual oneself enhances consumption more than watching someone else perform the same ritual, suggesting that personal involvement is crucial for the benefits of rituals to emerge. Finally, Experiment 4 provided direct evidence of the underlying process: Rituals enhance the enjoyment of consumption because of the greater involvement in the experience that they prompt.

Keywords: consumption; decision making; enjoyment; involvement; motivation; rituals.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Beverages / statistics & numerical data
  • Cacao
  • Candy / statistics & numerical data
  • Ceremonial Behavior*
  • Cues
  • Daucus carota
  • Decision Making / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Gestures
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation / physiology
  • Pleasure / physiology*
  • Students / psychology
  • Young Adult