Tag Archives: haptics

Apple’s Implementation of the Duration-of-Exposure Effect: Screens at 70Ëš

Hours after writing about the duration-of-exposure effect (whereby merely touching an unowned object increases our attachment to it and how much we value it), a post came into my feed reader pointing out how Apple Inc. take advantage of this effect in their “painstakingly calibrated” stores.

Carmine Gallo, providing a glimpse into his upcoming book, The Apple Experience, explains how every aspect of an Apple Store is designed to foster “multisensory ownership experiences”. This on the (very specific) tilt of laptop screens (from another great article on the topic):

The notebook computers displayed on the store’s tabletops and counters are set out, each day, to exactly the same angle. That angle being, precisely, 70 degrees: not as rigid as a table-perpendicular 90 degrees, but open enough — and, also, closed enough — for screens’ content to remain visible and inviting to would-be typers and tinkerers.

The point […] is to get people to touch the devices. “The main reason notebook computers screens are slightly angled is to encourage customers to adjust the screen to their ideal viewing angle,” [Gallo] says — “in other words, to touch the computer.”

A tactile experience with an Apple product begets loyalty to Apple products, the thinking goes — which means that the store exists to imprint a brand impression on visitors even more than it exists to extract money from them. “The ownership experience is more important than a sale,” Gallo notes. Which means that the store — and every single detail creating the experience of it — are optimized for customers’ personal indulgence. Apple wants you to touch stuff, to play with it, to make it your own. Its notebook computers are tilted at just the right angle to beckon you to their screens — and, more importantly, to their keyboards.

When Apple do it right, they do it perfectly.

via Kottke

Increasing Attachment and Valuation Through Touch

The endowment effect is old news: the amount that we value an object increases once we take ownership of it. The ‘extended version’ shows that the impact of the endowment effect increases with time: our valuation of an object increases more and more as the amount of time that we own it also increases. This is known as the length-of-ownership effect.

A recent study published in the journal Judgement and Decision Making1 has taken an even deeper look at this effect: studying how touching an object increases both our attachment to that object and how much we value it… even if we don’t own it (also in pdf). Here are the key findings of this ‘pre-ownership exposure study’:

  • Touching an object will increase our attachment to it and valuation of it, whether we own it or not.
  • The longer we touch or handle an un-owned object, the greater we will value it and feel attached to it.
  • Simply thinking about an un-owned object increases our valuation of it and how much we feel attached to it.

Related findings, cited in this article:

  • If an object is being sold at auction, the amount that we value the object will increase as the length of the auction increases.
  • Owning a coupon for an object increases our emotional attachment to that object.
  • Making an item the “focus of a comparison” increases its attractiveness and the probability that it would later be selected. We will also feel more attached to the item and will value it higher.

via @stevesilberman and Lifehacker (suggesting that this duration-of-exposure effect’ is an explanation for why we have cluttered homes.)

1 What, you’re not reading Judgement and Decision Making? You should; it’s bimonthly and open access.

Embodied Cognition and How Objects Influence Our Perceptions

The physical properties of objects we interact with can substantially influence our opinion of unrelated items and people.

Through a number of novel experiments, MIT’s Joshua Ackerman has clearly shown how the texture, weight, and other physical properties of objects we touch affect our judgements and decisions (neatly summarised by Ed Yong):

Weight is linked to importance, so that people carrying heavy objects deem interview candidates as more serious and social problems as more pressing. Texture is linked to difficulty and harshness. Touching rough sandpaper makes social interactions seem more adversarial, while smooth wood makes them seem friendlier. Finally, hardness is associated with rigidity and stability. When sitting on a hard chair, negotiators take tougher stances but if they sit on a soft one instead, they become more flexible.

These influences are not trivial – they can sway how people react in important ways, including how much money they part with, how cooperative they are with strangers, or how they judge an interview candidate. […]

According to Ackerman, these effects happen because our understanding of abstract concepts is deeply rooted in physical experiences. Touch is the first of our senses to develop. In the earliest days of our lives, our ability to feel things like texture and temperature provides a tangible framework that we can use to understand more nebulous notions like importance or personal warmth. Eventually, the two become tied together, so that touching objects can activate the concepts that they are associated with.

Ed Yong goes on to describe how this “embodied cognition” shows direct relationships with the metaphors and idioms of the English language, such as “heavy matters”, the “gravity of the situation”, a “rough day”, “coarse language”, a “hard-hearted” person and “being a rock”.

The Benefits of Touching

‘Touchier’ basketball teams and players (those who bump, hug and high five the most) are more successful than those who limit their non-playing physical contact. Similarly, higher satisfaction has been reported in romantic relationships in which the partners touch more.

Just two of the findings from research looking at the importance of touching in relationships.

Students who received a supportive touch on the back or arm from a teacher were nearly twice as likely to volunteer in class as those who did not, studies have found. A sympathetic touch from a doctor leaves people with the impression that the visit lasted twice as long, compared with estimates from people who were untouched. […] A massage from a loved one can not only ease pain but also soothe depression and strengthen a relationship.

via @charliehoehn

A Look at our Sense of Touch

Primal, Acute and Easily Duped: Our Sense of Touch is a recent article from Pulitzer Prize-winning Natalie Angier (author of The Canon: The Beautiful Basics of Science) taking a rudimentary look at the sense of touch and some recent research in the field of haptics.

Scientists have determined that the human finger is so sensitive it can detect a surface bump just one micron high […] 1/25,000th of an inch — the diameter of a bacterial cell.

Aside from the fascinating accuracy of the sense, the article looks briefly at what is dubbed the ‘rubber hand illusion’ which Mind Hacks looks at in more detail—and I suggest you do too.

via Seed