Palma (Mallorca) from 12 to 13 July 2016
First meeting of the SEJyD
(Society for the Advancement of Judgment
and Decision Making Studies)

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General programme, activity sheet

Tuesday 12 July, 2016 08:45 to 09:45 Opening keynote address
The influence of aesthetic cues on decision-making
Speaker: Dr. Martin Skov, Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre

Aesthetic cues are often thought of as non-functional properties of an object that contribute to the appearance, but not the “content” of the object. For example, a chair can be made from any number of different materials, take on a variety of geometrical forms, or be colored whatever color was available to the chair maker. None of these features are relevant to the chair’s status as “chair”, or – in general – to its use. They do, however, affect the “look” of chair, its “design” or “style”.

A vast array of empirical research show that such aesthetic cues influence decision-making, for instance decisions about how to act in social interactions, which products to buy, or how to organize the habitat we inhabit. To decision researchers this fact is of interest at least for two reasons. One is that, at least on some assumptions about how decision-making works, aesthetic cues should be irrelevant to the decision-making process. It makes little sense, for example, that people behave more fair or collaborative in social dilemmas when the other person they interact with is attractive. Or that the type of cutlery used can affect how much diners are willing to pay for a meal. (But it can.) The other reason is that aesthetic cues often are inconspicuous. We are rarely conscious of the fact that the facial features of the person we are dealing with inform how we assess economic options, or that the cutlery we eat with affects how we value the meal being eaten. In this sense, aesthetic cues can be said to be rather overlooked as a factor influencing decision-making.

In my talk I will present empirical results demonstrating how pervasive aesthetic cues are in human decision-making across many different domains. I will then discuss why they modulate decision-making processes. In short, recent neuroaesthetic research suggests that aesthetic cues can modulate neural processes in the reward system, impacting both valuation assessments for an object as well as motivational drive.
Place: Gran Hotel Assembly Hall