Regretful pleasure: Toward an understanding of flow cost in media use

Giang V. Pham, Brittany R.L. Duff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Flow (state of intense focus) during media use has been largely considered a desirable experience, with technologies developed to maximize the chance of encountering flow in computer-mediated environments. However, the total absorption of attention due to flow could be problematic in contexts where the user has multiple predetermined goals, and engaging with the flow-inducing media could cost them resources that may be otherwise devoted to other goals. When flow imposes a cost on the user’s goal performance, it may also reduce their post-experience gratification with the flow-inducing media. The present study proposes a novel theoretical framework to begin understanding the potential cost of flow in media use with supporting evidence from two survey and vignette studies (N = 235 and N = 245). Its findings will extend human-computer interaction research by highlighting the double-edged impact that flow might have on media users’ larger goal performance and downstream well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0268194
JournalPloS one
Issue number5 May
StatePublished - May 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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