In mature markets, a product’s emotional value gains more and
more in importance. In this regard, especially a product’s
appearance, i.e. its visual design, should be an important marketing
tool to appeal to the consumers’ emotions. Therefore, a new
trend in product design is to create forms which look human-like
(anthropomorphic), for example, car designers talk about the
“face” of a car – headlights for eyes, grille for
a mouth. Hereby, product designers tap into an innate human trait
already known from psychology and anthropology: Human beings are
highly sensitive to human forms and feel attracted by them.
In this project, I intend to deal with one specific anthropomorphic form, the so called “baby schema”. This human pattern is defined as a set of physical features such as a round face and big round eyes (Lorenz, 1943) usually found in infant but also in adult faces. Interestingly, the “baby schema” is highly relevant as a design dimension in car design for several reasons, too: First, the features of a baby face can be translated into car design features easily, just think of cars like VW Beetle, BMW Mini or Fiat 500 which are commonly described as “cute” because of their baby-like appearance. And second, psychologists and anthropologists have already found out that the baby schema triggers spontaneous positive reactions like positive emotions and approach behavior (e.g. caretaking) in individuals. So it seems to be a promising approach to investigate whether the same positive reactions which are triggered by a human baby schema could be also triggered by a product whose design imitates the baby schema.
In cooperation with Prof. H. Leder from the University of Vienna, Austria, I will conduct experimental studies where I would like to apply modern bio-physiological measurements (e.g. electro dermal activity, facial electromyography) to assess the consumers’ spontaneous emotional reactions to “cute” car designs. How do anthropomorphic product designs contribute to a product’s emotional value?
product design, emotional product value, anthropomorphism, unconscious consumer responses, bio-physiological measurements
Prof. H. Leder, Universität Wien
|start of project||2009|
|end of project||2010|
Product design, affective consumer responses
behavioral and bio-physiological experiments