Unconventional consumption methods and enjoying things consumed: Recapturing the “first-time” experience

Ed O'Brien, Robert Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


People commonly lament the inability to re-experience familiar things as they were first experienced. Four experiments suggest that consuming familiar things in new ways can disrupt adaptation and revitalize enjoyment. Participants better enjoyed the same familiar food (Experiment 1), drink (Experiment 2), and video (Experiments 3a-3b) simply when re-experiencing the entity via unusual means (e.g., eating popcorn using chopsticks vs. hands). This occurs because unconventional methods invite an immersive “first-time” perspective on the consumption object: boosts in enjoyment were mediated by revitalized immersion into the consumption experience and were moderated by time such that they were strongest when using unconventional methods for the first time (Experiments 1-2); likewise, unconventional methods that actively disrupted immersion did not elicit the boost, despite being novel (Experiments 3a-3b). Before abandoning once-enjoyable entities, knowing to consume old things in new ways (vs. attaining new things altogether) might temporarily restore enjoyment and postpone wasteful replacement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-80
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • enjoyment
  • novelty
  • variety
  • consumption
  • waste


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