Innovation is Appreciated When We Feel Safe: On the Situational Dependence of the Appreciation of Innovation
Claus-Christian Carbon, Stella J. Faerber, Gernot Gerger, Michael Forster, Helmut Leder


Appreciation of innovative goods requires the fulfilment of several pre-conditions, e.g., before we can admire an innovative design we must have cognitively elaborated it. In the present study, we focused on situational context as one factor affecting appreciation of innovations. In order to demonstrate that evaluation of innovation for the appreciation of consumer products is sensitive to situational demands we studied the selective activation of fascinating facets versus threatening or even dangerous aspects of innovation. We varied the specific direction of elaboration towards potentially fascinating or dangerous aspects of car designs that differed in their degree of innovativeness. Participants showed specific appreciation for highly innovative designs only if they had elaborated the material on the basis of scales associated with the more fascinating aspects of their stimuli. A repetition after a week revealed that participants recalibrate to the appreciative norms with which they started, but that they showed the same dissociate pattern of results after having elaborated the material again. The findings underline the adaptive function of aesthetically-based evaluations strongly depending on the situational context in which they are evaluated.

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