Impact of Incidental Aesthetics on Consumer Evaluations

dc.contributor.authorBonetti, Beatriz Lopezen
dc.contributor.committeechairPandelaere, Marioen
dc.contributor.committeememberGoenka, Shreyansen
dc.contributor.committeememberMay, Frank Dominicken
dc.contributor.committeememberHerr, Paul Michaelen
dc.description.abstractThis doctoral dissertation investigates the impact of incidental aesthetics on consumer perceptions. The author refers to incidental aesthetics in two dimensions. One is in the aesthetic properties of product context that is not directly related to its functional performance. And second is in the aesthetic attributes found in unexpected sources defined as ordinary objects, places, and people. Drawing on theories from aesthetics, psychology, and consumer behavior, this dissertation examines in two manuscripts how and why incidental aesthetics influence consumer evaluations. The first paper, 'Welded Together: How Responses to Incidental, Nondiagnostic Sensory Context (Mis)Guide Simultaneous Product Evaluations,' studies how evaluations of incidental aesthetics from a sensory experience with nondiagnostic product contextual cues are merged with the evaluations of the target product. The second paper, 'Consumer Attentiveness to Beauty in the Ordinary,' examines an understudied dimension of beauty. The construct of attentiveness to beauty in the ordinary is defined as the degree to which individuals mindfully identify and formulate an aesthetic judgment of common visual elements and integrate this mindset into their daily experiences. The authors develop a four-item Attentiveness to Beauty in the Ordinary Scale to measure the construct. Using a mixed-methods approach, combining a series of laboratory experiments and field studies from a diverse sample of consumers (Npaper1 = 49,435; Npaper2 = 2,051), the authors show in the first paper that unappealing (appealing) incidental sensory experiences lead to lower (higher) product evaluations, including perceived quality and purchase intention. The effect emerges when the incidental evaluation pertains to a dimension closely related to the product dimension being evaluated. In the second paper, the findings provide evidence of validity and reliability of the Attentiveness to Beauty in the Ordinary Scale, situate the scale in a network of related constructs such as appreciation of beauty, engagement with beauty, dispositional awe, voluntary simplicity, materialism, mindfulness, and subjective happiness, and demonstrate the predictive value of the scale for consumer perceptions and behavior. Specifically, people high (vs. low) in ordinary beauty attentiveness are less discriminating in aesthetic evaluations of ordinary elements, find higher product quality in naturally-aesthetic packaging, are less persuaded by endorsers' attractiveness, and are more likely to buy imperfect produce. This dissertation contributes to the literature on aesthetics and sensory marketing by revealing that aesthetic experiences that are not intentionally designed or not expected but naturally occur in consumption environments have a significant impact on consumer evaluations. The results have practical implications for marketers and designers, who can leverage the power of incidental aesthetics in marketing strategies to enhance product perceptions.en
dc.description.abstractgeneralThis dissertation explores, across two papers, how natural aesthetic qualities found in things, people, places, or in product contexts, referred to as incidental aesthetics, can influence our perceptions and evaluations of products. In the first paper, the authors find a novel effect in which consumers "merge" aesthetic evaluations of incidental product context that do not affect the functionality of the product (e.g., bad/good music on headphones) with product evaluations they make at the same time (e.g., bad/good quality headphones). This effect occurs because people spontaneously mix the evaluation of the context (e.g., music sound) with the evaluation of a closely related product attribute (e.g., sound quality). In the second paper, the authors define attentiveness to beauty in the ordinary as a disposition that some people have of being more open to finding beauty when it is not expected (i.e., incidental aesthetics) and therefore seeing beauty more frequently in everyday situations than other people. The authors create a scale to measure this individual disposition and find that 1) people with high (vs. low) attentiveness to ordinary beauty see less of a difference in the beauty of elements high and low in aesthetics, 2) find higher product quality in naturally-aesthetic packaging, 3) are less persuaded by the attractiveness of an endorser in an advertisement, and 4) are more likely to buy aesthetically imperfect produce. Adding to existing research, the findings of both papers provide new insights into the impact of incidental aesthetics in consumption settings. Surprisingly, even when aesthetic experiences are not intentionally designed or expected to be found, they can still play a significant role in shaping consumer behavior. These findings have practical implications for marketers, who should consider the incidental aesthetics of their products and contexts to create a more positive experience for consumers, leading to higher product perceptions. Overall, this research suggests that the power of aesthetics in influencing behavior extends beyond what consumers consciously perceive or expect to find.en
dc.description.degreeDoctor of Philosophyen
dc.publisherVirginia Techen
dc.rightsIn Copyrighten
dc.subjectsensory marketingen
dc.subjectincidental contexten
dc.subjectproduct evaluationsen
dc.subjectbeauty attentivenessen
dc.subjecteveryday aestheticsen
dc.subjectvoluntary simplicityen
dc.subjectsubjective happinessen
dc.titleImpact of Incidental Aesthetics on Consumer Evaluationsen
dc.typeDissertationen, Executive Business Researchen Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen of Philosophyen
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