Leonard Lee

Music Elicits Holistic Category-Level Preferences

Coauthor(s): Manoj Thomas.


Consumers can make purchase decisions based on preferences for a product category (“I like snacks”) or based on considerations of a product’s attributes (“The price is low.”) Results from three experiments demonstrate that when participants were exposed to background music, their decisions about a variety of products (books, movies, and snacks) were more influenced by holistic category-level preferences than by analytic attribute-level considerations. Additionally, this effect manifested for different types of music, suggesting that it is not driven by any conceptual fit between music and product. However, the effect was attenuated when background music was substituted by noise, thus ruling out cognitive load as a sufficient condition for the effect. A plausible mechanism for this novel phenomenon is discussed: that music invokes greater experiential processing, hence leading to more holistic information processing.

Source: Working Paper
Exact Citation:
Lee, Leonard, and Manoj Thomas. "Music Elicits Holistic Category-Level Preferences." Working Paper, Columbia Business School, July 15, 2010.
Date: 15 7 2010