Background People often choose between two competing options: option A (aesthetically superior but functionally inferior) and option F (functionally superior but aesthetically inferior). We hypothesize that people like option A more when it is presented with option F (joint evaluation) than when presented alone (separate evaluation) because people find aesthetic attributes are hard to evaluate. We further hypothesize that this effect holds neither for option F nor among experts.
Methods We briefly reviewed two cases in the Korean automobile industry and then conducted two experiments in China. In the first experiment, we compared preferences about two USB drivers between two evaluation modes. In the second experiments, we compared preferences about two basketball shoes in the joint evaluation between novices and experts.
Results We found from the first experiment that participants increased their preferences for option A in the joint evaluation compared to the separate evaluation. Their preferences for option F did not differ between the two evaluation modes. In the second experiment, only novices preferred option A over option F in the joint evaluation. Experts did not prefer option A over option F.
Conclusions Our findings contribute to the scholarly discussions about form and function. They also provide practical implications to designers and marketers who need to sell aesthetically pleasing products. This work goes beyond design marketing interface to add evaluation mode as an intervention to nudge people to choose aesthetically pleasing products, which has been barely discussed in behavioral economics.
Aesthetic, Behavioral Economics, Function, Intervention, Knowledge, Marketing, Nudge
Banff Aspen Lodge has an interesting environmental incentive program. If guests stay two or more nights and prefer no housekeeping service in this hotel, it offers a choice of options for the guest’s consideration:
- Option 1: The hotel will make a donation of $4 on behalf of guests to the Banff Community Foundation, which supports environmental initiatives in their community. To select this option, guests insert the Green Card into the entry door lock.
- Option 2: Enjoy one complimentary beverage at the Whitebark Cafe, which is located in the lobby. To select this option, guests insert the Yellow Card into the entry door lock. A complimentary beverage coupon is delivered to the guest’s room.
I suspect someone carefully designed a choice architecture with a psychological intervention to nudge guests to choose “No” housekeeping service. This program will be effective because…
- Three options are provided (housekeeping vs. environmental 1 vs. environmental 2). It differs from the choice architecture commonly observed in the behavioral economics in which two competing options are provided. Having three options may relieve the guests’ burden, which decreases their intentions to defer choices.
- Only two environmental options are highlighted. As guests read and think about “how” to protect environment, the chance they select one of the two environmental options may increase.
- Two environmental options reflect the two motivations why people should behave environmentally friendly; helping others (charitable giving) and helping themselves (economic incentive).
- Finally, when guests select one environmental option, they do not speak or write down but simply insert a card into their own entry door lock. This simple behavior has no peer pressure.
This environmental incentive program might be more effective than making a commitment at check-in, a scientifically proven intervention in the prior marketing paper.
Baca-Motes, K., Brown, A., Gneezy, A., Keenan, E. A., & Nelson, L. D. (2012). Commitment and Behavior Change: Evidence from the Field. Journal of Consumer Research, 39(5), 1070–1084.
Influencing behavior change is an ongoing challenge in psychology, economics, and consumer behavior research. Building on previous work on commitment, self-signaling, and the principle of consistency, a large, intensive field experiment (N = 2,416) examined the effect of hotel guests’ commitment to practice environmentally friendly behavior during their stay. Notably, commitment was symbolic—guests were unaware of the experiment and of the fact that their behavior would be monitored, which allowed them to exist in anonymity and behave as they wish. When guests made a brief but specific commitment at check-in, and received a lapel pin to symbolize their commitment, they were over 25% more likely to hang at least one towel for reuse, and this increased the total number of towels hung by over 40%. This research highlights how a small, carefully planned intervention can have a significant impact on behavior. Theoretical and practical implications for motivating desired behavior are discussed.
River Thames flows through London. People come to the London Bridge to see the Tower Bridge which allows ocean-going ships to pass beneath it.
Many visitors stopped in front of a pink public litter bin momentarily and threw litter away before crossing the bridge.
We knew adding human faces or adding controversial messages nudge our prosocial behaviors. Adding votes could be another effective intervention. I believe behavioral economics can play a critical role when public items are designed. Asking people to vote by splitting a litter bin into two sub bins looks more effective than designing a gigantic litter bin like a disposable coffee cup.
Flam is a small village in Norway. Tourists who take the Norway in a Nutshell tours switch ferry boats here. A cozy restaurant called Bakkastova Cafe is located up on the hill.
This restaurant had a note at the cash register. It says, statistics say that women are tipping better than men. I added coins to the tip jar labeled men because I wanted to oppose this questionable argument. Others might tip if they support it.
This suggests that scientifically proven or well supported arguments may fail to motivate people to behave in a certain way. Rather, incomplete, controversial arguments trigger people’s willingness to speak out and may lead them to make an action. From the behavioral economics’ perspective, people’s avoidance for perfection seems to be a better nudge compared to either putting on some lipsticks to make something look like a human or painting foot prints on the street.