This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

‘Love It or Hate It’? Exploring the Role of Visual Storytelling in Mitigating Design Risk




Seifert, Christin

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Consumer and Design Sciences


Even though consumers desire new product designs, many are initially hesitant to purchase innovatively designed products due to the lack of understanding the new design’s value, resulting in product launch failures. Thus, capitalizing on the magic of visual storytelling can help to mitigate the design risk and enhance the aesthetic experience associated with novel designs. Specifically, this study suggests that visual design stories related to the product’s formal and symbolic/expressive qualities can add extra value and product meaning. This study intended to provide a holistic understanding of how visual storytelling (conceptual product cue) can aid in the overall aesthetic experience related to the novelty of product designs (perceptual product cue). As part of this goal, this study investigated the main and interaction effects of design novelty (perceptual product cue) and visual storytelling (conceptual product cue) on objective and subjective cognitive responses, objective aesthetic impression and subjective aesthetic association, respectively. It also examined the effects of both product cues on two affective and cognitive aesthetic output variables, aesthetic emotion and aesthetic judgment, respectively. Further, this study explored the structural relationships between cognitive responses and aesthetic output variables with the purpose of delineating an overarching model that includes perceptual and conceptual product cues and all relevant concepts that make up the overall aesthetic experience. ANCOVA and multiple linear regression were conducted to test the hypotheses. Results revealed that moderate (vs. high) novelty products received more positive judgment, objective and subjective cognitive responses and less negative emotions. Visual design stories related to both types of product qualities enhanced all dependent variables, whereas only stories related to symbolic/expressive product qualities stimulated positive aesthetic emotions. An interaction between perceptual and conceptual product cues on dependent variables was not found. This study also shows that a visual design story (present vs. absent) enhanced subjective aesthetic association of the product more than its objective aesthetic impression. Lastly, both cognitive responses provoked positive aesthetic emotions, and subjective cognitive responses partially mediated the relationship between objective cognitive responses and aesthetic judgment. The study offers important theoretical and marketing implications with the inclusion of limitations and suggestions for future research.