Empirical Investigations Into the Role of the Self-Concept in Product Semantics and Aesthetic Experience: An Industrial Design Perspective

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Copyright: Sunstrum, Frederique
Understanding product semantics and affective perceptions of product consumers undoubtedly offer significant value for industrial designers and their design practice. Deconstructing affective perceptions is a methodologically challenging task as it is implicit and subjective and is influenced by an individual’s aesthetic experience. Accordingly, how products are perceived differs among individuals or consumers, particularly in the distinct experiences that contribute to constructing an individual’s sense of perception of self or self-concept. Furthermore, research has shown that individuals are implicitly drawn to products that reaffirm and communicate their self-concept. If an individual’s preferences for products can reflect or enhance their self-concept, this suggests that understanding the underlying perceptual processes between the self-concept and product semantics can productively inform industrial design research. The thesis research develops and adapts methods from the disciplines of psychology, marketing, and industrial design to investigate these underlying perceptual processes of the self-concept and its relationships to product semantics. The thesis research investigates the underlying processes through a study on kettles that discloses the variances in sensory and cognitive evaluation and judgements through the process of aesthetic experience. The thesis further investigates the cognitive influences of the self-concept to reveal the mental models associated with the visual aesthetics of product form and how this influences aesthetic responses through product personality congruence. The thesis argues that the self-concept is a multidimensional construct reflected, in particular, through an individual’s (1) gender identity, (2) personality, (3) aesthetic sensitivity, and (4) interest, taste, and goals, that plays a vital role in the aesthetic experience of products. The thesis’s findings indicate that these individual components of the self-concept are essential in that they interplay in how the symbolic meaning of product semantics is visually perceived. The outcome of this thesis assists in, primarily, revealing the underlying stages of visual aesthetic processing to understand how product semantics is perceived through an individual’s self-concept.
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PhD Doctorate
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