"I am personally a creature of habit. That's why I am so interested in how people adapt to change," said lead researcher Stacy Wood, Moore Research Fellow and associate professor of marketing at the University of South Carolina. "While comfort foods do have a soothing function and really do make us feel good, we don't turn to them as readily as we think we do."
Wood's research, titled "The Comfort Food Fallacy: Avoiding Old Favorites in Times of Change," was published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
Over the course of several studies involving several hundred students, Wood found that increasing levels of stress and change correlated with an individual's tendency to pick unfamiliar products. These instinctive choices occurred even when the students expressed agreement with the notion that people choose familiar comfort foods when they are undergoing daily stresses or life changes.