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The Roots of Variety Seeking: How Age, Preferences, Domain, and Timing of Choice Affect Variety Seeking


Across four studies, we examine the variety selections of 348 children (4-9 years of age) and 113 adults. In Studies 1A and 1B, we find that, like adults, children (4-9 years) prefer to diversify their selections given no established preference for one item over another, especially when selecting among food as contrasted to durable items such as toys. In Study 2, we find that, like adults, children’s (6-9 years) willingness to pay is greater for varied versus non-varied pairs of items, suggesting that increased value is a consequence of a preference for variety. In Study 3, we find that preschool-aged children (4-5 years) tend to diversify their selections of food more when choosing items simultaneously (all on one day) versus sequentially (across several days). Together, our results provide novel insight into the potential for variety to serve as a tool to promote greater wellbeing in childhood.


Working Paper


Michal Maimaran, Margaret Echelbarger

Date Published



Maimaran, Michal, and Margaret Echelbarger. 2019. The Roots of Variety Seeking: How Age, Preferences, Domain, and Timing of Choice Affect Variety Seeking.


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