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Using event related potentials to investigate visual aesthetic perception of product appearance

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Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing & Service Industries

Published online on


Visual aesthetic directly affects the user's purchase decision and results from the user's analysis and judgment after perceiving product appearance. Therefore, understanding the neural mechanisms of visual experience is critical for product design. This study combined subjective evaluation with ERPs (event‐related potentials) to investigate the user's aesthetic experience as evoked by smartphones. A visual aesthetic scale was constructed, and the results from the questionnaire were used to verify the reliability of the aesthetic scale. Before the ERPs experiment was constructed, smartphones were divided into higher visual aesthetic and lower visual aesthetic based on subjective evaluation according to the aesthetic scale. An amended oddball paradigm was then used in the ERPs experiment. Landscapes were presented as rare targets, while smartphone pictures were presented as frequent nontarget stimuli. The ERPs were then averaged separately for each aesthetic type. Two negative components were recorded and compared with respect to two aesthetic types on the participants’ prefrontal, frontal, and central sites. The smartphone pictures with lower scores of visual aesthetic elicited larger amplitudes of N100/N200 than those with higher scores according to the within‐subjects, repeated‐measures analysis of variance. The exploring of neural responses correlated with visual aesthetic can provide an accurate method of measuring the user's perception and can help marketers know which product gives the user a higher visual aesthetic experience. The difference of ERPs may be taken as an evaluating indicator of product design.