People seek more variety when they choose multiple items for future consumption simultaneously than when they make choices sequentially, i.e. on an ‘in the moment’ basis.  Diversification is non-optimal when people overestimate their need for diversity (Read & Loewenstein, 1995). In other words, sequential choices lead to greater experienced utility. For example, before going on vacation I may upload classical, rock and pop music to my MP3 player, but on the actual trip I may mostly end up listening to my favorite rock music. When people make simultaneous choices among things that can be classified as virtues (e.g. high-brow movies or healthy deserts) or vices (e.g. low-brow movies or hedonic deserts), their diversification strategy usually involves a greater selection of virtues (Read et al., 1999). (See also projection bias).


Read, D., & Loewenstein, G. (1995). Diversification bias: Explaining the discrepancy in variety seeking between combined and separated choices. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 1, 34-49.

Read, D., Loewenstein, G., Kalyanaraman, S. (1999). Mixing virtue and vice: Combining the immediacy effect and the diversification heuristic. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 12, 257-273.