1 Matthew Bennett Consumer Behavior T.K. Clarke May 5, 2009 Psychology of Shapes on Consumer Behavior 2.

Shape Bernd Schmitt and Alex Simonson suggest four key dimensions of shape that should be considered by managers in planning an aesthetics strategy. The dimensions Schmitt and Simonson propose are size, angularity, proportion, and symmetry and according to them “tinkering with these dimensions can have a dramatic impact on customer’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 are often talked about in visual design textbooks and websites there is no official citation and no tests have been done on the subject as far as we could find. Another source of insight into shape and meaning is the study conducted by Ricardo Pires Gonçalves about the influence of shape and color on consumer perception with regard to the label (2008). 2.1- Angularity Angularity refers to forms that have angles on them, like squares, rectangles, triangles, etc. According to Bernd Schmitt and Alex Simonson, “Angularity is associated with conflict, dynamism, and masculinity…” (1997). They also point out the similarity between angular and straight shapes, saying “Straight shapes are often perceived as masculine, 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

2 shaped bottle and preferred “rugged” as their most important quality. This agrees with the idea that straight, angular shapes are more masculine. They also convey a message of energy, youth, liveliness, violence, anger, rapidity, dynamics, and movement. We therefore hypothesize that younger groups in our study may prefer bottle C. Bottle C has very 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 is more 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, rectangles and pyramids, pertain to bottle A. Bottle A is the most masculine bottle according to the above definitions of shapes. It should also be the one that is described by most men as rugged and bold. Bottle C is very linear looking as well, but it encompasses curvy aspects that 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 Shapes The opposite of angular shapes are circular shapes. According to Schmitt and Simonson, “…roundness evokes harmony, softness, and femininity” (1997). In addition to that they say “curved shapes are perceived as feminine, soft, and continuous.” In our

3 study we will assume that most women will prefer the bottles that are rounder and more curvaceous. The majority of them, we assume, will choose their most important quality in a bottle to be “attractive,” and “dainty.” Circular shapes convey tenderness, love, friendship, care, support, protection, affection, and compassion. Bottle B in our study is a round, circular shape and bottle D is very curvaceous. This suggests that most women will choose bottles B or D as their favorite bottles due to the amount of femininity associated with their shapes. Horizontal lines convey the messages of tranquility, femininity, calmness, rest, weakness, peacefulness, composed, silent, still, and non-menacing. None of our bottles encompass horizontal lines. However, if one of our bottles did, I imagine the elderly due to 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 soft curves. 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 be most 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 we focus on size” (1997). This means people are generally ego-expressive when it comes to the 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” (Schmitt and 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

4 others may chose “simple” or “dainty.” The ones who chose the “rugged” and “bold” will tend to be more masculine, while those who chose “simple” and “dainty” will tend to be more feminine. Hypothesis 2A: Women will prefer the smaller looking, rounder and more curvaceous, bottles B and D. Hypothesis 2B: Women will prefer the qualities of “attractive” and “dainty.” 2.3- Demographics As of the year 2000, the total population of Rohnert Park was 42,236 as recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau, with an ethnic makeup of 80.28% white; 1.97% African American; 0.78% Native American; 5.58% Asian; 0.42% Pacific Islander; 5.72% from other races; and 5.25% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.57% of the population. It was also reported that the population was 25.3% under the age of 18; 14.8% from 18 to 24; 32.0% from 25 to 44; 19.8% from 45 to 64; and 8.1% 65 years of age or older. 50.8% of the population is female, while 49.2% are males. Therefore, we hypothesize that during our study we will encounter mostly white men and women over the ages of 18. (Insert Graph)


Work Cited: http://www.design-skills.org/the_psychology_of_forms.html

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