21 March 2010

The impact of simplicity

Psyblog has a roundup of research demonstrating that simplicity has an impact on cognition. This extends the review by Song and Schwarz of the impact of simple text formats, word pronunciation etc., by including responsiveness to objects that look simple to pick up and those that don't.

In research by Canon, Hayes and Tipper, people were asked to categorise objects that were shown either in an orientation appropriate to picking them up e.g. turned in a way that showed them to be grippable in the right hand, or in an orientation not appropriate for picking up. In the appropriate grip position recordings showed participants had greater cheek muscle activity (associated with smiling).

Now I know it's a bit of a step from this lab finding to making a case for a simple product design, and that there are easy targets here, but my recollection of sitting on a Philippe Starck stool (above) was that it certainly elicited muscular activity, but not of the muscles associated with smiling.

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