A common, low-stakes living-room scenario: A couple is trying to decide on a movie to watch. There’s an option one-half of the relationship is thrilled about, but the other has already seen it. On those grounds, it’s ruled out.
But a new study suggests that this notion that having already seen it—or read it, done it, visited it—automatically precludes a second go-around might be mistaken. Repeating something, it turns out, “may turn out to be less dull than people think,” writes Ed O’Brien, the author of the study and a behavioral-science professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
In one experiment, O’Brien and his research team approached people near an exhibit on genetics at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, asking them to rate how much they enjoyed the exhibit and how much they think they’d enjoy perusing it again. While the subjects tended to predict that the exhibit would be less fun the second time around, the ones who did another walkthrough at the researchers’ request rated it roughly as enjoyable as the first. In other words, the museumgoers, as a group, underestimated how much they would like doing the same thing twice.
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