Article | Psychological Science | 2013

Rituals Enhance Consumption

by J. Vohs, Y. Wang, F. Gino and M. I. Norton

Abstract

Four experiments tested the novel hypothesis that ritualistic behavior potentiates and enhances the enjoyment of ensuing consumption—an effect found for chocolates, lemonade, and even carrots. Experiment 1 showed that ritual behaviors, compared to a no-ritual condition, made chocolate more flavorful, valuable, and deserving of behavioral savoring. Experiment 2 demonstrated that random gestures do not boost consumption like 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 rituals oneself enhanced consumption more than merely watching someone else perform the same ritual, suggesting that personal involvement is crucial for the benefits of rituals to emerge. Last, Experiment 4 provided direct evidence of the underlying process: Rituals enhance consumption enjoyment due to the greater involvement they prompt in the experience.

Keywords: Practice; Satisfaction; Consumer Behavior;

Citation:

Vohs, J., Y. Wang, F. Gino, and M. I. Norton. "Rituals Enhance Consumption." Psychological Science 24, no. 9 (September 2013): 1714–1721.