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Psychology of Shapes

Psychology of Shapes



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Published by: api-12220483 on May 12, 2009
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1Matthew BennettConsumer Behavior T.K. ClarkeMay 5, 2009Psychology of Shapes on Consumer Behavior 2. ShapeBernd Schmitt and Alex Simonson suggest four key dimensions of shape thatshould be considered by managers in planning an aesthetics strategy. The dimensionsSchmitt and Simonson propose are size, angularity, proportion, and symmetry andaccording to them “tinkering with these dimensions can have a dramatic impact oncustomer’s perceptions” (1997). The use of many ‘common knowledge’ understanding of what shapes mean will also be used throughout, and while these meanings of shape areoften talked about in visual design textbooks and websites there is no official citation andno tests have been done on the subject as far as we could find. Another source of insightinto shape and meaning is the study conducted by Ricardo Pires Gonçalves about theinfluence of shape and color on consumer perception with regard to the label (2008).2.1- AngularityAngularity refers to forms that have angles on them, like squares, rectangles,triangles, etc. According to Bernd Schmitt and Alex Simonson, “Angularity is associatedwith conflict, dynamism, and masculinity…” (1997). They also point out the similarity between angular and straight shapes, saying “Straight shapes are often perceived asmasculine, sharp, abrupt and choppy” (1997). In our study of how consumers choose bottles based on the bottle’s shape, we assume most men will chose the angular, straight
2shaped bottle and preferred “rugged” as their most important quality. This agrees with theidea that straight, angular shapes are more masculine. They also convey a message of energy, youth, liveliness, violence, anger, rapidity, dynamics, and movement. Wetherefore hypothesize that younger groups in our study may prefer bottle C. Bottle C hasvery sharp angled lines around its base and on its cap. It is a very young bottle that is“attractive” to many of the participants in this study.Squares, rectangles, and pyramids convey the message of strength, stability, power, balance, and reliability. Bottle A in our study is a rectangular shape with linear characteristics. Ideally this would be the one that most of the men would choose. It ismore of a masculine bottle than the rest because it embodies a message of strength,stability, and power that are more masculine qualities. (Madden et al. 2000).Vertical shapes and lines convey strength, masculinity, power, aggression,courage, brutality, dominance, and menacing. These would, like the squares, rectanglesand pyramids, pertain to bottle A. Bottle A is the most masculine bottle according to theabove definitions of shapes. It should also be the one that is described by most men asrugged and bold. Bottle C is very linear looking as well, but it encompasses curvy aspectsthat do not make it seem quite as masculine as bottle A.
Hypothesis 1A: Males will prefer the larger, more angular looking bottles A and C.Hypotheses 1B: Males will prefer the qualities of “rugged” and “bold.”
2.2- Circular ShapesThe opposite of angular shapes are circular shapes. According to Schmitt andSimonson, “…roundness evokes harmony, softness, and femininity” (1997). In additionto that they say “curved shapes are perceived as feminine, soft, and continuous.” In our 
3study we will assume that most women will prefer the bottles that are rounder and morecurvaceous. The majority of them, we assume, will choose their most important quality ina bottle to be “attractive,” and “dainty.” Circular shapes convey tenderness, love,friendship, care, support, protection, affection, and compassion. Bottle B in our study is around, circular shape and bottle D is very curvaceous. This suggests that most womenwill choose bottles B or D as their favorite bottles due to the amount of femininityassociated with their shapes.Horizontal lines convey the messages of tranquility, femininity, calmness, rest,weakness, peacefulness, composed, silent, still, and non-menacing. None of our bottlesencompass horizontal lines. However, if one of our bottles did, I imagine the elderly dueto the tranquil nature of such a bottle would like it.Soft curves are most associated with femininity, but they also convey rhythm,movement, happiness, pleasure, and generosity. In our study, bottles B and D have softcurves. Bottle D also conveys a sense of movement while bottle B conveys a feeling of  pleasure with its very round shape. These are two of the bottles that we assume will bemost liked by the female participants in our study.Another factor presented by Schmitt and Simonson is size. They say,“Personalities are often read into particular shapes. This is readily apparent when wefocus on size” (1997). This means people are generally ego-expressive when it comes tothe size of the products they buy. “Large shapes, tall or wide, are often perceived as powerful and strong while small shapes, short or thin, appear delicate and weak” (Schmittand Simonson, 1997). This will help us to understand why some participants in our survey will chose “rugged,” and “bold” as their most important qualities in a bottle, while

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