Photo by Marcus Loke on Unsplash
Guest essay by Eileen Cardillo, D.Phil.
No sooner have we digested the stuffing and apple pie than we are confronted by Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and a frenzied buffet of ads and twinkly window facades encouraging a holiday shopping binge. I teach my young children that Thanksgiving heralds the onset of Giving Season, a festive opportunity to give back to the communities, friends, and family we are so thankful for. I would forgive them should they instead infer that ’tis the season of the Great Festival of the Shopper. As last-minute types scramble to complete their holiday shopping this week, they may find their haste (tick off this to-do list!) at odds with their good intentions (find a meaningful gift). What’s a desperate procrastinator to do? Research from empirical aesthetics suggests a strategy to offset the shopping stress: follow your feelings.
Everyday Aesthetics and Consumer Experience
Engaging with the arts or nature are widely agreed upon prototypical aesthetic experiences. Such activities have been the traditional focus of the philosophy of aesthetics and its empirical study in the past century. However, anything can be an “aesthetic” experience in principle. Recently, scholars have directed their attention to so-called “everyday aesthetics”1 – from how we style our hair, plate our food, decorate our homes, and landscape our yards to the clothes we wear, cars we purchase, and mates we choose. Whether one construes everyday aesthetics narrowly to encompass only the quotidian, commonplace, and ordinary2,3 or more expansively to include common but infrequent experiences like childbirth4, consumer experiences qualify as prototypical exemplars of this domain.
The nascent field of consumer psychology has demonstrated the importance of aesthetic properties like color, packaging, design, and logos for consumer preferences and behaviors like brand
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