Connectedness and Autonomy

The influence of social connectedness and autonomy on aesthetic pleasure derived from product designs

People use product designs to communicate things about themselves. For example, someone can display social group membership through the appropriate choice of a wristwatch (e.g., a classical design versus a sporty design) and thus enjoy the safety conferred by bearing the stylistic traits of that specific group. However, the same watch might also help someone else express his or her autonomy and feel like a unique individual (e.g., sporty, but quirkier than the common sports watch). Because people have both a need for connectedness and an opposing need for autonomy, we can assume that people find product designs that provide a balance between feeling connected and feeling autonomous as the most aesthetically pleasing. Our studies confirm this assumption. Yet, in daily life, social pressures may shift this balance towards a preference for connectedness over one for autonomy, or the other way around. Such pressures might include social risk, chronic regulatory focus, and in- versus out-group pressure. We are currently investigating the influence these social pressures exert on the perceived aesthetic pleasure evoked by a product’s design. Overall, this research will provide insights into the social functions of product designs.

Post-doc project by JANNEKE BLIJLEVENS
(With: Paul Hekkert)


Blijlevens, J. & Hekkert, P. (2013). The influence of a product’s perceived social function on aesthetic pleasure for visual product designs. In U. Ansorge, E. Kirchler, C. Lamm & H. Leder (Eds.) Paper presented at the Tagung experimentell arbeitender Psychologen, Vienna, 24-27 March 2013. Lengerich: Pabst science publishers.

Blijlevens, J. & Hekkert, P. (2014, August). Influence of Social Connectedness and Autonomy on Aesthetic Pleasure for Product Designs. In A. Kozbelt, P. P. L. Tinio & P. J. Locher, Proceedings of the 23rd Biennial Congress of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics (IAEA). New York, USA.