Wednesday, July 14, 2010

MIT: What We Touch Influences What We Think

I wish I could remember how many times I have found myself saying: "I wish they would do a study on that!" Wishes do come true and the Genie for this particular request is Joshua Ackerman, an assistant professor of marketing at MIT's Sloan School of Management.

According to MIT, Ackerman tested how three dimensions of touch — that of weight, texture and hardness — can unconsciously influence judgments and decisions about unrelated events, situations, and objects. The results hold implications for marketers and negotiators to job seekers and employers to everyday people who simply want to make more informed decisions.

“What we touch unconsciously influences how we think,” says Ackerman. “In situations where evaluations and decisions really matter, we need to pay attention to our physical surroundings and, in particular, how we engage these surroundings through our sense of touch.” 

The study concludes that the heavier of two of the same objects is seen to have greater importance and demands greater attention.

The study also found that "shoppers more readily understood and formed confident impressions about products with which they physically interacted."

There are several lessons to be learned from this study. Among them:

  • Stationers should encourage customers to touch and hold their papers.
  • Consumers should understand that a weightier paper, with a soft airy surface (Hmmmm, I wonder where I can get some of that?) will carry your message with much more gravity than lighter paper.
  • Job-seekers should always print their resumes on 32-pound 100% cotton paper. Regular 20-pound paper is for the copier. Twenty-four pound is good, but 32-pound commands respect and attention.

There's another element to this story that I hadn't thought about in quite a few years. And that is how Crane's envelopes are made. You may be familiar with the way Crane stationery envelopes look and feel. They are like no other and that is on purpose. It's called Crane's Puff. Rather than pressing and compressing the envelope into shape like ordinary, skinny, unsubstantial envelopes, Crane folds its envelopes, leaving lots of air and plenty of room for your weighty messages.

It's another mark of distinction for those in the know.


Janice Phillips said...

This is an excellent post and so, SO true. I refuse to by paper the shop won't let me open or feel. I really appreciate it when they have a sample set out I can interact with on a tactile level. It is literally a deal breaker when things are so strink-wrapped and sealed that I can't see/feel the paper or journal or whatever it is. Not I know science is on my side, haha.

GrannyKass said...

Just reading this posting makes me want to break out the Monarch size stationery and my favorite fountain pen and start writing.

Thanks for the post.