When Good Looks Kill: an Examination of Consumer Responses to Visually Attractive Product Design

In a time when companies are able to match each other on dimensions of quality and price, superior design is seen as a key to winning customers. But while design has been an area of growing concern, it remains unclear whether superior design should be a goal sought after by all. The present paper examines the effect of visually attractive design upon consumers’ perceptions of quality and argues that under certain circumstances, firms benefit from investing in superior visual design while in other circumstances companies might be adversely impacted in pursuit of highly attractive visual design. We develop and empirically test a model of visual information processing based on theories assimilation-contrast and implicit personality. It is shown that a U-shaped relationship exists between visual attractiveness and perceived performance but that this relationship is moderated by both brand information and access to processing capabilities. By understanding the boundary conditions and mechanisms involved in this process of performance-related trait inference, we can begin to outline implications for when and how to use a product’s visual design as a competitive tool.


Rishtee Kumar Batra, Frederic Brunel, and Sucharita Chandran (2009) ,"When Good Looks Kill: an Examination of Consumer Responses to Visually Attractive Product Design", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 698-698.


Rishtee Kumar Batra, Boston University, USA
Frederic Brunel, Boston University, USA
Sucharita Chandran, Boston University, USA


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36 | 2009

Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More


Q11. The Effect of Message Ephemerality on Information Processing

Uri Barnea, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Robert Meyer, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Gideon Nave, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Read More


E1. Effects of Recipients’ Emotional Expressions on Donors’ Preference for Helping with Development versus Survival

Xue Wang, University of Hong Kong
He (Michael) Jia, University of Hong Kong
Sara Kim, University of Hong Kong

Read More


When do people learn more from others’ prosocial behavior? A meta-analysis of prosocial modeling effect

Haesung Annie Jung, University of Texas at Austin, USA
Eunjoo Han, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
Eunjin Seo, Texas State University
Marlone Henderson, University of Texas at Austin, USA
Erika Patall, University of Southern California, USA

Read More

Engage with Us

Becoming an Association for Consumer Research member is simple. Membership in ACR is relatively inexpensive, but brings significant benefits to its members.