Can a preference for design objects also be achieved automatically? The aim of this study is to examine whether different levels of expertise in industrial design (laypeople versus design experts) can orient the preference towards different styles of design objects (classic chairs versus modern chairs), at both implicit and explicit levels. Implicit and explicit preferences are often mediated by assessor features. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) was used to measure the automaticity of the evaluation. The participants (44 laypeople and 40 experts) performed a categorization task with reference to pictures (five classic and five modern chairs) and words (five positive and five negative aesthetic words). Reaction times were registered. The explicit evaluation of the stimuli was assessed using a seven-point Likert scale referring to the adjectives beautiful, typical, familiar, understandable, complex and interesting in order to appraise overall preferences for both classic and modern design objects.
In both measurements, implicit and explicit preferences for classic and modern objects were moderated by expertise: experts were aesthetically more oriented towards modern objects while laypeople did not show a specific preference for one style. This study is one of the first attempts to demonstrate the differences in aesthetic preferences between experts and non-experts at an implicit level.
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