Choosing Beauty and Feeling Good: How Attractive Product Design Increases Self-Affirmation

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Abstract
Consumers construct and maintain self-concepts through the use of branded consumer products. Yet product choice not only reflects an actual or desired image of the self but can also directly influence a person’s sense of self and even boost self-esteem. The aesthetics of a product is an attribute that has the power to transform how consumers perceive themselves. The mere act of choosing a beautiful product over a less good-looking one affirms people’s sense of self – who they are and what their values are. It goes beyond personal image building and self-presentation; its impact is also turned inwards. Choice of high design works as a unique form of affirmation. It works unconsciously, and high design may even be a particularly powerful form of affirmation precisely because its relationship to the self and one’s values is not obvious. And design is more powerful than other features in this respect. Comfort and ease of use, taste and brand do not have the same self-affirming quality as design. It is not simply that “treating” oneself or going for the pleasurable option has an affirming effect; it is specific to the choice of aesthetics.