Study Finds Consumers Like Beating Designers at Their Own Game

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By Steve Delahoyde Comment

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It’s not available online yet, but the latest study from the Journal of Consumer Research sounds like an interesting one. It’s C. Page Moreau and Kelly B. Herd‘s “To Each His Own? How Comparisons to Others Influence Consumers’ Evaluations of their Self-Designed Products” and the press release associated with it says it looks into how consumers enjoy rejecting professional design in favor of things of their own creation. The researchers also report that “consumers enjoy intentionally competing against professionals.” So not only does the buying public like to make its own stuff, it likes to flaunt that in the face of working designers? Seems like an interesting bit of research. However, though we haven’t read the study yet, we’re a little concerned about its definition of “design,” as the press release seems to infer that people like working purely with the aesthetics (in this case, “skins” are mentioned several times) of an object, which is certainly not the only thing “design” does in “design.” Does your average Joe like researching the best types of thread to use to stitch together those shoes? Or the most usable build of that MP3 player’s operating system? Sounds as though the study is really about consumers like being given the illusion of “design” by a product’s creators by letting them tinker around with the base aesthetics. But, again, this is just reading into the press release. We’re eager to read the full piece.