Full citation

Hoegg, J., et al. (2010). "The good, the bad, and the ugly: Influence of aesthetics on product feature judgments." Journal of Consumer Psychology (Elsevier Science) 20(4): 419-430.

Abstract: As goods commoditize more quickly in terms of functionality, design is increasingly becoming a critical point of differentiation. The present research examines the interaction of aesthetic design and product evaluation, testing the conventional wisdom among practitioners that “what is beautiful is good.” Three studies examine how design influences feature processing when aesthetics and feature performance conflict. Study 1 reveals a bias in the direction of the unattractive product—a negative aesthetic effect—and provides initial evidence that this bias stems from thoughtful reconciliation of incongruous information and a consequent elaboration of the conflicting dimension. Studies 2 and 3 examine boundary conditions. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

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Format: Peer-reviewed article

Type: Research — Experimental

Experience level of reader: Fundamental

Annotation: Three studies examined design and product evaluation to test the assumption that good looking products are better by conducting experiments with attractive/ugly product photos against product reviews that did/did not specify a key feature. The first study concluded a negative bias against ugly products. The second study tested how presentation order effects peoples’ interpretations of conflicting verbal/visual information. The last study tested the influences of familiar brand names on consumer evaluations. The paper confirmed that looks and brand name supersede objective comparisons.

Setting(s) to which the reported activities/findings are relevant: Business

Knowledge user(s) to whom the piece of literature may be relevant: Designers, Production Managers, Developers.

Knowledge user level addressed by the literature: Basic

This article uses the Commercial Devices and Services version of the NtK Model

Primary findings


  • Users comparing two similar products may presume that the more attractive design is functionally superior even when presented with written or verbal evidence to the contrary.
    Controlled experiment findings
    Occurrences within the model: NtK Step 5.3, 6.3
  • Brand identity takes precedence over information even when consumers are presented with facts about performance.
    Controlled experiment findings
    Occurrences within the model: NtK Steps 4.13 5.3


Organizing preferences by different elements helps to identify preferences. Categorizing prototypes by size, unity, and prototypicality design is typical or exemplar of its kind).
Controlled experiment findings
Occurrences within the model: NtK Step 4.11 


Identify important aesthetic factors to design a product that will perform in real market conditions.
Controlled experiment findings
Occurrences within the model: NtK Step 4.13