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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