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The "Beauty Dilemma": beauty is valued but discounted in product choice

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The empirical study of aesthetics in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is concerned with - among other topics - the relationship between beauty and usability and the general impact of beauty on product choice and use. Specifically, the present paper explores the notion of a "beauty dilemma" - the idea that people discount beauty in a choice situation, although they value it in general (i.e., they are not choosing what makes them happy). We explored this idea in three studies with a total of over 600 participants. Study 1 revealed a reluctance to pay for beauty due to its hedonic nature (i.e., associated with luxury etc.). Study 2 showed that people prefer a more beautiful product, but justify their choice by referring to spurious advantages in usability. Finally, Study 3 revealed that a choice situation which requires a trade-off between beauty and usability, and which offers no further way to justify choosing beauty, leads to a sharp increase in the preference of usability. The underlying reasons for this "beauty dilemma" and further implications are discussed.
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... Instead, only the design qualities that are believed to be relevant for the specific context are taken onto consideration in forming a judgment (Van Schaik et al., 2012). For example, we know from existing research that the design quality of usability is favored in product choice situations, but only when people are asked about it (Diefenbach and Hassenzahl, 2009). Otherwise, different design qualities such as cost, beauty, functionality, brand and durability may be more relevant (Işıklar and Büyüközkan, 2007;Mack and Sharples, 2009;Sata 2013). ...
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