The role of holistic processing in simultaneous consumption

Robert Smith, Joseph Redden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


People frequently consume multiple things simultaneously, such as listening to music while eating a snack. In this research, we show that the enjoyment of a simultaneous consumption experience depends on how one processes the multiple stimuli. Holistic processors focus more on how the multiple components come together as part of a coherent overall experience, while analytic processors focus more on each component as an isolated distinct experience. Five studies show that this attentional difference leads holistic processors to focus more on how the stimuli complement each other, which then increases perceptions of complementarity and subsequent enjoyment when the stimuli are at least somewhat complementary. The studies establish this enjoyment effect using manipulations, measures of ethnicity, and measures of natural processing style. The studies also establish two theoretically-relevant boundary conditions: holistic processing does not enhance enjoyment when the stimuli are (i) quite non-complementary, or (ii) consumed in isolation.

Previous article in issue
Original languageEnglish
Article number104023
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • enjoyment
  • simultaneous consumption
  • holistic processing
  • complementarity


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