The Atlantic

People Underestimate How Fun It Is to Do the Same Thing Twice

It’s common to prize novelty in leisure activities, but research suggests that revisiting the familiar can offer unexpected pleasures.
Source: Miguel Vidal / Reuters

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

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic4 min readPolitics
China Is Cutting Tariffs—For Everyone Else
Lobster is Maine’s top export. Like many Americans with something to sell, Maine’s trappers benefited from positive turns in China’s economic development. The movement of tens of millions of people out of poverty and into the middle class increased d
The Atlantic3 min read
The Adam Sandler Netflix Experiment Continues With Murder Mystery
The star’s latest movie is familiar, formulaic, and mildly amusing—making it a perfect fit for the streaming service.
The Atlantic13 min read
The Surreal End of an American College
Small schools across the United States are facing budget short falls and low enrollment—leading some to shut down in the middle of students’ higher-education experience.