How Design Influences Behavior – Part 1Blog

The design that surrounds you, influences your thoughts and subsequentlly your behavior. Understanding this relationship between the environment and your mind is important. Your brain is not only hard-wired to interpret certain spatial characteristics in certain ways, but your mind also plays a role in how you make decisions based on those interpretations. All in all, design is a type of a “food for thought” where your deigned surroundings impact not only how you perceive that world, but also how you interact within it.

Design impacts our creativity, focus, health, attention, mood and social ability. Design plays a major role for our brains, not just as we perceive space; but also as we engage in interactions, behaviors and thoughts.

As you read Leon Alexander’s blog, study the retail area of his design at Salon 01 in Indianapolis and see if you can identify some of the design elements that will trigger consumer behavior.

Processing Architecture with Your Brain

“Designing salons around the mind.” The ceiling of a room has an affect on how consumers process information. A lower ceiling within a room promotes greater attention to detail by occupants. Higher ceilings promote greater abstract and creative thinking by occupants.

Feeding Your Thoughts Via Your Senses.

The beauty of salon design is that it can be designed as interactive embedded with sensors and triggers that allow it to respond as well. The main idea is that the brain interprets design through your mind and plays a role in influencing your thoughts and subsequent behavior.

The recent slowdown in consumer spending particularly affected the retail sector. However, this most competitive and dynamic of sectors is fighting back with some innovative design strategies at the cutting-edge of experimental psychology.

In just a few decades, this sector has changed out of all recognition, driven by fierce competition, and has been at the forefront of new marketing concepts, such as brand management and customer loyalty.

Now, in a period of economic uncertainty, retailers are adopting another weapon the manipulation of our minds.

It’s developing science, but one that retailers are increasingly relying on because what matters, particularly in a downturn, is footfall through the door and converting browsers into customers. Parting us from our money has never been more important

The makeup area at Salon 01 entices clients to linger and purchase.

The trick, as retailers know, is to first entice a shopper inside their store, and then to make them linger. The longer they linger, the more they are likely to buy. That’s why supermarkets stock their most popular staple items like bread and milk at the back of their stores forcing customers to walk further and pass other products on the way. It works: research suggests that more than 50 percent of supermarket purchases are bought on impulse.

However, modern research-based and observational techniques have gone much further in trying to understand how we shop. For example, we walk around shops in the same way as we drive a car. If we drive on the right, we tend to keep to the rights when walking down side walks or supermarket aisles. The British and Australians, conversely, ten to turn left when entering a store. It’s a branch of scientific observation that now has a name environmental psychology. And, it’s proponents claim that it will revolutionize the design of shops and public areas.

Sound unlikely? Well, putting the theory into practice, it means that in a well-designed airport, travelers walking to their gates should find fast-food outlets on their left and gift shops on their right. The mind game being played is that, if a traveler is hungry, he or she is quite happy to cross a lane of pedestrian traffic to buy something to eat. However, they’ll rarely do so to make an impulse gift purchase.

Some retailers who have bought into the new psychology have taken it to extremes. Samsung, for example, has experimented with what it calls coercive atmospherics in its flagship store in Manhattan pumping in the smell of honeydew lemon and constantly and subtly changing the lighting scheme to create a tropical and relaxed atmosphere.

That level of sophisticated manipulation does raise ethical issues, but as an overall strategy, it’s no more than retailers have been doing to us for many years appealing indirectly to our subconscious minds. In recent years, retailers have acquired a greater understanding of psychology and its role in the sales process.

It’s a fast-developing branch of psychology. In clothing stores, when “feminine scents” like vanilla were introduced, sales of women’s clothing increased. The same was true for men’s clothing when “male” scents were used.

Tune back in for How Design Influences Behavior, Part Two, where we look at the psychology of color.

Leon Alexander is president of Eurisko, a comprehensive design, consulting and distribution source servicing the salon and spa industry. He holds a Ph.D. in behavioral psychology.

Read the full article HERE