Research by Wu and his team identified new links between aesthetics and use. They determined that “While prior research suggests enhanced aesthetics should have a uniformly positive influence on pre-usage evaluations and choice, the present research examines the downstream effects of nondurable product aesthetics on consumption behavior and post-consumption affect [mood]. . . . We find that highly aesthetic [beautiful] products elicit greater perceptions of effort in their creation, and that consumers have an intrinsic appreciation for such effort. Because the consumption process indirectly destroys the effort invested to make the product beautiful, people reduce consumption of such products because usage would entail destroying something they naturally appreciate. . . when individuals do consume a beautiful product, they exhibit lower consumption enjoyment and increased negative affect [mood].” These findings relate specifically to nondurable products, but may have implications for other situations, such as those in which durable products have been decorated in appealing ways and use may degrade those decorations, for example.
Freeman Wu, Adriana Samper, Andrea Morales, and Gavan Fitzsimons. "It's Too Pretty to Use! When and How Enhanced Product Aesthetics Discourage Usage and Lower Consumption Enjoyment." Journal of Consumer Research, in press.