Harnessing the Power of the Esthetic Emotions
John Novak, Assistant Professor University of Louisiana, Lafayette
Edited by: Kerry Bowers-Buchmann Georgia State University
It happens instantaneously, upon sight alone: a product’s appealing form evokes a profound emotional response in the fraction of a second before rational issues of cost, comfort or brand are considered. Terms like ‘love at first sight’, ‘lust’, and ‘passion’ are often used to describe the response to these objects, but is the emotional response to artifactual form similar to the attraction felt for a member of the opposite sex? Neuroscience has shown that human beauty activates reward circuitry in the brain that is similar to the sight of cocaine by drug addicts. Is this response shared in the sensory representation of objects? Do convenient mathematical relationships, proportioning systems, sacred geometries and patterns ranging from phallic symbols to the (female counterpart) vesica piscis hold the ability to produce emotional responses in products? If so, might it be possible to isolate, and use these unique qualities for the purposes of commercial gain? These questions illustrate the need for primary research involving Design, Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, and Psychology to successfully contribute to the existing body of knowledge concerning product esthetics. The author’s research agenda includes establishing a series of three-dimensional fragments that represent the basic geometric elements of artifactual form. By studying non-verbal communication, emotional responses to form can be studied and lead to the dissection of the Gestalt object and perhaps the ability to predict esthetic judgment and consumer acceptance.