Effects of Novelty and Its Dimensions on Aesthetic Preference in Product Design
Wei-Ken Hung, Lin-Lin Chen
Product designers seek to create novel designs that elicit aesthetic responses from consumers. In this paper, we re-visited the much investigated relationship between novelty and aesthetic preference, but also with a new focus on what constitutes novelty in product design. Based on prior research on consumer’s perception of product appearance, we included three fundamental dimensions of product semantics－trendiness, complexity, and emotion－in our study, and investigated their influences on novelty and aesthetic preference. We selected 88 chairs that are highly varied in shape but correspond to a common prototype－a chair with back support and without arms－ as stimuli. We then conducted a semantic differential study on the 88 chairs, where trendiness, complexity, and emotion were measured by using bipolar adjectives “traditional-modern”, “simple-complex”, and “rational-emotional”, respectively, while novelty and aesthetic preference were evaluated by using the bipolar adjectives “typical-unique” and “beautiful-ugly”, respectively. The results confirm Berlyne’s hypothesis that the relationship between novelty and aesthetic preference resembles an inverted-U curve, where the chairs perceived to be most beautiful are those with a moderate level of novelty. Each of the three dimensions－trendiness, complexity, and emotion－forms a positive linear relationship with novelty. This result shows that the three fundamental dimensions of product semantic can be regarded as predictor variables for novelty; of the three dimensions, trendiness has the greatest influence, followed by complexity, and finally by emotion. The three dimensions influence aesthetic preference differently: both complexity and emotion exhibit inverted-U relationships with aesthetic preference, while trendiness has a small positive linear relationship with aesthetic preference.
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