Cultural Differences in Aesthetic Preferences: Does Product-to-Context Match Matter? Open Access Deposited
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Date Modified: 12/06/2017
Western cultures focus on salient objects and use categorization for purposes of organizing the environment (an analytic view), whereas, East Asians cultures focus more holistically on relationships and similarities among objects when organizing the environment (a holistic view). Previous research has shown that cognitive approaches differ between cultures: European Americans prefer an analytic style, and East Asians tend to use a holistic style. However, little is known about how cultural differences in cognition relate to aesthetic preferences. In this paper, we explored whether cultural differences arise in preferences for products set in matching vs. mismatching contexts. Participants in a laboratory experiment included European Americans and East Asians. Individually, they viewed images of a variety of furniture products (chairs, coffee tables, and floor lamps) and rated their aesthetic appeal. Each product type appeared in three different contexts: matching (target product shown in its usual in-home context); mismatched (target product shown in an unusual in-home context), and neutral (the target product shown on a white background). For both cultural groups, products were judged to be more aesthetically pleasing in the matching than in the mismatched context. However, ratings for products in mismatching contexts were significantly higher among East Asians. Our findings suggest that those with holistic views (East Asians) are more tolerant of mismatches than are those with more analytic views (European Americans). The implications for product and marketing design include greater attention to context presentation.
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