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Put it all together

So perceived time, personality, trust—certainly these are important. But these are just perceptions, right? How much should we really care about shaping perceptions? Well, our experiences (and to some extent our reality) are based on perceptions. But our evaluation of a system’s performance is surely based on something more substantial, right?

Consider these findings from research presented at the human-interaction conference CHI 2007. Users were asked to “judge the relevancy of identical search results from different search engines.” The only difference in the studies was the branding attached to the results. The search results were identical in all cases. Were people rational? Did they focus on the relevancy of the results? Nope. “Participants in the study indicated that the results from Google and Yahoo were superior to identical results found through Windows Live or a generic search engine.”

What is a brand but perceptions? In this study, functionally identical results were perceived as better due to brand attributes such as trust, personality, and perception. I’d say that our own perceived experiences might be more important than a measurable reality.

We should be very concerned with how aesthetics shape perceptions, especially given the extent to which perceptions shape judgment, influence behavior, and shape our memories.

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