The "Beauty Dilemma": beauty is valued but discounted in product choice

  • Diefenbach S
  • Hassenzahl M
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The empirical study of aesthetics in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is concerned with - among other topics - the relationship between beauty and usability and the general impact of beauty on product choice and use. Specifically, the present paper explores the notion of a "beauty dilemma" - the idea that people discount beauty in a choice situation, although they value it in general (i.e., they are not choosing what makes them happy). We explored this idea in three studies with a total of over 600 participants. Study 1 revealed a reluctance to pay for beauty due to its hedonic nature (i.e., associated with luxury etc.). Study 2 showed that people prefer a more beautiful product, but justify their choice by referring to spurious advantages in usability. Finally, Study 3 revealed that a choice situation which requires a trade-off between beauty and usability, and which offers no further way to justify choosing beauty, leads to a sharp increase in the preference of usability. The underlying reasons for this "beauty dilemma" and further implications are discussed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • aesthetics
  • beauty
  • beauty dilemma
  • product choice
  • user experience

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  • Sarah Diefenbach

  • Marc Hassenzahl

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