The comfort and appeal of vintage objects?

The comfort and appeal of vintage objects?

The vintage culture has grown very large in the last 10 years, with all sorts of collectables from furniture, to homes, to old signs and toys. Just watch the show "American Pickers" to get an idea of this subculture.

The nostalgia and style of the vintage subculture seems to create some sort of feeling that is very pleasant/euphoric.

Especially during times of increased stress, high levels of psychological pressure and/or life struggle - the vintage objects seem to provide some sort of comfort for the individual (as I have also witnessed this in myself and observed in others).

Are there any studies that look into this phenomenon and what are some of it predominant findings?

A long time ago nostalgia was a medical diagnosis. Longing for that which was comforting is perhaps a natural response to no longer being comforted (e.g the current economic crisis). Furthermore, behavioural economics and psychology both do work on people's tendency to remember the past better than today. You could look at the ego-centric memory bias. (you might note the false consensus effect which is related and the cause of many a belief in an erroneous "common sense").

If you combine these you might just see why the vintage is appealing. In fact, even beyond one's own experience there is the lore of the past being better passed down from generation through generation by way of the ego-centric bias, perhaps making older vintage even more appealing. I remember Twain and others writing on this but cannot recall a quote.

Finally, I'm sure that some vintage things are often just lovely on their own and have an appeal of artistry different from modern for a variety of reasons.


It’s a holistic practice that believes the energy from colored light can be used to heal certain ailments. In Chromatherapy, it is believed that Blue can be used to soothe pain and treat certain illnesses. Red stimulates the body and mind and can increase blood circulation. Orange is an energy color, the combination of blue and red and as such can increase physical energy. Yellow purifies the body while stimulating the nervous system.

  • Blue: soothes pain, comforting
  • Red: stimulates body and mind, increase blood circulation
  • Orange: energizing, revitalizing
  • Yellow: purifying, stimulates nervous system
  • Blue + Red: increases physical energy

Chromatherapy dates back as far as the ancient Egyptians, some 5000 years ago. Think about it…5000 years of associating colors to how we feel has got to have an impact on our subconscious response to colors. As a game development studio in the new millennia, how can you use the psychology of color to appeal to your game market better?

And it proves true today. Red raises our blood pressure, increases our hunger response, stimulates our senses and is linked to increased aggression. Blue, the opposite of Red on the color spectrum and has the opposite physiological effect even to the point of being calming.

When was the last time you visited Las Vegas? Notice any particular color in the photo? Yup. Red.

The way people react to color is dependent on three basic factors:

The Psychological Influence Of Our Habitat

The psychology of space offers insight into this simple formula: space and mood are intimately connected. This is why professionals who apply psychology to interior architecture take into account the personal characteristics of their client, as well as their way of being, when creating a space.

How can spaces influence us psychologically? What sensations can the different types of spaces and decorations awaken in us?

Let us look at some important aspects:

  • Open-space: It usually symbolizes tranquility and rest.
  • Complexity: This gives us a sense of challenge and purpose, which can be attractive.
  • Consistency: As space and objects become more homogeneous, we will experience a pleasant feeling of comfort.
  • Texture: The softer it is, the more pleasant it is to the touch. However, it is not only at the level of touch but also with the other senses that we perceive it.
  • Identification: If a particular object or corner is easily identifiable, the sensation it gives us will be pleasant. Otherwise, it can generate tension and agitation in us until we undo the meaning of it.
  • Color: Each color triggers a certain register of emotions. For example, black generally characterizes pessimism and aggression white to purity yellow to happiness and green to feelings of harmony, hope, and peace.
  • Social criterion: Spaces are also made for sharing. This is why we sometimes look for spaces that are optimal for collective activities and human interaction.
  • Temperature: More specifically, it is the thermal sensation associated with the spaces. It will be more comfortable for us or not, depending on whether you like the cold or the heat.

Psychology and Design Recommendations

The distribution of the spaces as well as the arrangement of the elements that compose it and the color used influence us. Here’s a set of recommendations on how to decorate your habitat and keep in mind the psychology of space and your home:

Pastel tones are preferable to grey and white tones, as they give an impersonal touch. The pastel range offers a feeling of relaxation and intimacy.

Large open-spaces generate a feeling of freedom and tranquility, which is why it is recommended not to furnish too much.

Personalizing spaces with photos or objects that have important personal meaning makes people more comfortable.

It is incredible to see how a space is capable of generating emotions just by seeing it. Who has never been overwhelmed by a dirty and messy place? Who hasn’t experienced a feeling of peace in front of a minimalist space decorated with soft colors?

Almost all of us have had similar experiences at some point in our lives. The psychology of interior architecture and habitat has a lot to teach us. Every detail is important. Each brings up memories, awakens emotions and promotes different sensations.

It is then true that if you see a person’s home you get to see into this mind and soul. “Show me your home and I will tell you who you are” is not superstition it’s a matter of modern science.

Final words for the psychology of your home

The psychology of interior architecture is also important in the therapeutic field. For example, a study was conducted in 2019 at the University of Palermo (Argentina) to analyze the importance of spaces for patients. It has been found that any external stimulus influences us and that a professional habitat design makes therapy more effective. So, there is no question that the psychology of space plays an important role.

Despite all the above, though, we shouldn’t generalize. As each person is different! Authenticity is the value of the human being, everyone thinks, feels and acts differently. You will also perceive and feel the spaces differently. Thus, one space can awaken tranquility in one person and tension or oppression in another.

The House Whisperer’s Guide to Finding Your Design Style

Just as every great author or moviemaker needs to know what kind of story they’re trying to tell—comedy, romance, horror, action, etc.—and a sense of how they’re going to tell it, every great architectural project begins with an intention, a theme, and a sense of style.

The stronger the sense of style the stronger the start.

Six Style Problems:

1. Very few people have a strong sense of design style.

2. Even those who can identify a design style rarely follow it without exception.

3. If you haven’t been trained in design then it’s all a foreign language and you don’t know even where to begin.

4. The one thing I can’t (won’t) do for you as your home designer is choose your style.

  • I can help you find a style.
  • I can suggest a style.
  • I can expand upon your style.
  • I can make sure you’re staying true to your style.
  • But I can’t choose it for you.

Your job is to do the hard work of knowing yourself.

Written above the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Delphi is this ancient Greek maxim: Know Thyself.

You don’t have to know anything about design but you have to know yourself.

The first, last and most important job of the design client is to know thyself.

5. All of these are compounded if your partner’s tastes are also involved.

6. Most people find themselves near one end or the other of a style spectrum:

a. They don’t care about style, see it as superficial, vain, frivolous, and really don’t see what all the fuss is about. This group fails to understand the practical effects style has upon them.

b. They become overwhelmed with the notion of what feels like the Herculean labor of finding THE style that properly defines them and as a result become paralyzed with the fear of missing the mark. This group fails to understand what it really means to live in a dream home.

Taking the pressure off … What living in your dream home really means.

In the movie Fight Club, as Ed Norton’s character rants and mocks rampant consumerism as symbolized by the IKEA catalog he asks the question: “What coffee table defines me as a person?”

We don’t need things to go that far. That’s impossible. No coffee table defines you as a person. We’re just looking to make a good choice that resonates with you in this setting here and now. Not once and for all.

Tina and I live in a home whose interiors are various forms of early 20th century design. That was an intentional decision. We love it. It’s an extremely thoughtful home. We’ve tried to be mindful about all our choices and as a result it tells a story.

But does it tell our whole story? Of course not. Does the fact that we’ve chosen these expressions for this house mean we couldn’t live in any other style of home? Not at all. We love many styles. All it means is that this home tells as much of our story as it possibly can.

Putting the pressure on … Why is style even important?

The psychology of COLOR

Color is a main component of how we experience the world around us. Colors have a definitive effect on our moods and emotions. Though there is some debate regarding the implications of certain shades, researchers and designers agree on the basic tenants:

•Red: Power and Passion. Likely because of blood and the skin flush that occurs during exertion or arousal.

•Yellow: Sunlight. Life. Warmth. The universal color of happiness, creation, and creativity

•Orange: A blend of yellow and red. Energy (color of fire) and passion = innovation. Which is one reason why orange is the universal color for construction.

•Green: Soothing. Cool, Growth. Nature. FYI, green in a foyer or entryway eases the transition from the outdoors.

•Blue: Sky and Sea. Calm. Freshness. Depth. Blue’s mood changes depending on how much black is mixed in.

•Purple: Red and Blue = Passion and Calm. Royalty and luxury.

•Gray: Like fog or overcast skies, quiets and calms a space.

•Brown: Earthy. Relaxed. Casual.

•Black: Power from Mystery. Depth. Shows off sharp contrast.

The psychology of SHAPE

Like color, shapes have a definitive effect on moods and emotions.

•Squares and Rectangles: discipline, strength, courage, security, reliability

•Triangles: Energetic and dynamic. Always associated with motion and direction. An upright triangle brings feelings of balance and focus, but the reversed one looks risky and ready to fall.

•Circles, ovals, and ellipses: Timelessness - since they have no beginning or end. Sun and Earth as well as other cosmic objects. Round shapes give the feeling of magic and mystery. Also softness and comfort (feminine), since circles don’t have angles.

•Spirals: Nature—shells and flowers. Growth. Knowledge and Intelligence.

•Natural shapes: Originality. Organic. Balance. Refreshment

•Abstract shapes: uniqueness

The psychology of IDENTITY

They say “The clothes make the man,” and “dress for success.” They’re right.

The Lab Coat Experiment - Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

“Enclothed Cognition” describes how what we wear effects mental processing. The study discovered that subjects tested higher on attention to detail and precision when wearing a white lab coat when compared to street clothes. Attention dropped again when subjects were told the lab coat was a painters smock.

We begin searching for style by asking questions and following clues.

Style Quizzes are a great start -,,,,, Design Society of America,

Collect Images - Browse magazines or the internet and collect images (Pinterest is great too, but it’s easy to suffer from Pinterest overload)

There’s a right way and a wrong way to collect images.

•The wrong way is to send all those images to your designer and say I like these.

•The right way is to try to identify what you like in each image. It may be a …

  • Color
  • •Shape
  • Texture
  • Arrangement
  • Material
  • Fixture
  • Sense or Feeling

Also include some images you don’t like and describe them as well.

You don’t have to overthink it but later we’ll start to compare your choices and see what they have in common.

“Style” is short for Lifestyle.

Look to your wardrobe - Take a good, hard look at your favorite clothing items (or the clothes you wish you owned). Pay attention to the colors, textures and attitude …sporty, elegant, conservative, modern, playful, beauty, relaxed, flirty (anticipation, expectation)

Look to the exterior of homes - When you drive around your city or town, what houses catch your eye or inspire you? Take pictures.

Look to your current decor - Make a list of furniture/art/accessories you love, and a separate list of those you wish you could replace.

Look to your dream vacation - When you think of getting away where do you dream of going? What would you be doing when you get there? Close your eyes, put yourself there and take notice of what you’re seeing.

Look to your daily life - “Style” is short for lifestyle. What does your best day look like?

In Environmental Interiors, authors Mary Jo Weale, James W. Croake, and W. Bruce Weale argue that human beings experience their environments in five ways:

  • Through the senses—sight, touch, taste, hearing, and smell.
  • Through time and by movement through space.
  • Through reasoning or thought, memory or imagination.
  • Through emotions, both pleasant and unpleasant.
  • Through anticipation or expectation.

This is probably the most obvious way that we engage with our homes. Pattern, color, lighting, and spatial arrangement appeal to the eyes flowers and candles appeal to the nose textures and space planning appeal to the touch music, conversation, and quiet appeal to the ears and foods and drinks appeal to the tongue. A comfortable home will have elements designed to please all of the senses, and as a consequence, sensory engagement is probably the primary way that we make sense of the items that we buy for our homes. Is it pretty? Does it please? Does it fit the space? Is it the right style? An environment’s experiential foundation rests on these fundamental physical and material qualities.

2. Time and Movement through Space

Whether you’re looking for modern, antique, or a mixture of the two, time is a crucial design element. Environments steeped in antiques with deep backstories and generations of love will feel quite different from those with streamlined, crisp furnishings. Often, a mixture of these two sides of the spectrum helps create a comfortable space. In Anne-Claire’s House Call antique wicker furniture, art nouveau posters, and a modern sofa all mingle in a 1960s living area to create a colorful and relaxed space.

I would say that space is even more paramount, though, in establishing the “feel” of a particular room. The floor plan relates form to function, and it has the power to give a home a sense of fluidity and freedom or a sense of being restricted and hemmed in. Each space’s needs will be different, but when thinking about space, consider movement patterns, the distance between furniture (which goes a long way toward making a space feel cozy or uninviting), and the need for negative space.

3. Mental Approaches: Reason, Memory, Imagination

Furnishings don’t exist in a vacuum, and even the smallest of objects will probably carry a mental association. For many people, memory is the most pervasive faculty when it comes to furnishing a home: grandmother’s dishes, a table from one’s parents, souvenirs from a trip, photos of important events. Our lives are awash with memories, and the home is, in many ways, a museum of comfort, where all these memories can be gathered and cherished. But reason and imagination are no less important. Reason enters the picture when you decide on layouts or organize your belongings. It ensures that the home is functional, and at the best of times, it floats invisible behind the scenes, adding a sense of comfort and fluidity to daily life. Imagination is the element that keeps you creative, nourished, stimulated, and inspired. I recently wrote a piece about bringing an element of wonder into the home, and I think that it’s a truly important part of a nurturing home.

Roger and Chris called this their “Combat the Gloom” makeover, and with good reason. It’s hard not too feel energized and warmed by the hot pink that they selected, and this room is an excellent reminder that seemingly simple choices, like 3 feet of paint and a painted ceiling, can completely alter the way that you feel when you’re in a room. Color psychology exists for a reason, and it works at a such a deep level that you may not even realize its subtle power. Other elements can also alter your emotions. Low ceilings will convey a different feeling than higher ones. A room with a great deal of natural light will yield itself to different moods than one without windows. Pay attention to your architecture, as well as the different ways that you want to feel in your space, and see if you can get them to align or at least to complement each other.

5. Anticipation or Expectation

Sometimes you want things to be exactly as they seem or as they “should be.” There is comfort in having one’s expectations met. Being able to predict basic things like where the spoons will be or whether the bedroom will be restful can help a person maintain a sense of control. All too often, the world is filled with unrelenting anxiety, and keeping those confusions out of the home can ensure that your home really is your haven.

But there are other situations in which you may want to shake things up a bit. The power of subversion—even subtle subversion—is immense. Putting those spoons inside a vintage coffee canister instead of in a drawer might be the little creative jolt that you need. Or selecting a color that’s one notch beyond your comfort zone might give your home that “wow” factor that you’ve been missing. Play with patterns, mix up your furnishings, put odd items on the wall, and shuffle things around. Having a sense of adventure when it comes to your home can also give it a significantly different tenor.

All in all, it’s important to consider these elements together. They’re a total package, and it’s their multifaceted interplay that really creates the “feel” of a room. It’s often hard to describe what it’s like to “experience” a room, but it may be easier to understand when you consider its component parts.

All That Authenticity May Be Getting Old

LIKE so many others her age, Casey Barber, 33, furnished her home with affordable basics from major retailers, pieces like that requisite “Ikea table that is still making the rounds after all these years,” she said.

But when it came to accessories, Ms. Barber, a writer and the editor of the Web site Good.Food.Stories., took care to search out the unique and handmade — things that communicated her personality and a certain sense of authenticity.

One of her prized possessions, which hangs in the stairwell of the house she shares with her husband in Clifton, N.J., is a graphic print by the small studio JHill Design, depicting the bridges of Pittsburgh, where Ms. Barber grew up. She also has a number of other art posters bought on Etsy, the crafts Web site, along with a few antique maps, a collection of postcards from the 1940s and ’50s and a cardboard bust of a bison that she bought at a shop in Chicago that sells antiques and quirky home accessories.

But recently, all this authenticity has begun to wear on her. Objects she once would have valued for their uniqueness have begun to seem like a “design uniform,” Ms. Barber said, now that the popularity of “one of a kind” things has become so widespread.


Even the major retailers have gotten into the game. West Elm is promoting items by Etsy vendors, Restoration Hardware has commissioned artisans to design products that look antique, and Pottery Barn is selling vintage pieces like pickling jars from Hungary and pillow covers made from old grain sacks. Even CB2, the playful, modern sibling of Crate and Barrel, is peddling a series of vintage and limited-edition products called One of a Finds.

“If you spend enough time looking at this stuff” — objects that are vintage, handmade or that just appropriate those looks — “you get overloaded pretty quickly,” Ms. Barber said.

How much authenticity is too much? It’s an oddly philosophical question, given the subject matter, but one that might occur to anyone confronted with the deluge of vintage and artisanal products now available online and through mass-market retailers.

Put another way, have we finally reached a saturation point, where the “authentic” loses its eternal quality and becomes just another fad?

“It really is something we think about a lot,” said Vanessa Holden, West Elm’s creative director, who was formerly the editor in chief of Martha Stewart Living magazine. “It’s a word that is thrown around way too easily. When we talk about authenticity, we’re very, very serious about getting as close to the source as we can, in terms of either the craft or the execution.”

A year ago, West Elm, the modern home furnishings retailer, which was already working with artisans and designers, formed a partnership with Etsy, the online marketplace that has been the engine and communal center of the all-things-handmade movement.

West Elm now features products by Etsy vendors in its catalogs and on its Web site, and hosts events called We Heart Handmade Art, which provide the vendors physical space where they can sell their wares. And on Dec. 1, the retailer will host an Etsy night at all its stores nationwide, where customers can create their own Christmas ornaments for trees that will be donated to local charities.

While there may be untold branding benefits, West Elm does not profit from the Etsy sales. Customers buy directly from the vendors, and there is no cut for the retailer. “It’s really about adding those diverse voices to our mix,” Ms. Holden said.

Meanwhile, Restoration Hardware is working with a number of artisans to create vintage reproductions that can be seen, along with a variety of other vintage-looking pieces, in the company’s 616-page fall catalog, which features magazine-style profiles of the creators.

Pottery Barn, which, like West Elm, is owned by Williams-Sonoma, sells vintage items from around the world as part of a collection called “Found.” Similarly, CB2 offers its own selection of vintage pieces, like hand-carved toys from India, as well as a line of items called “Hand-Touched” — tied-dyed rugs, for example, or ottomans swathed in sweater-like knitted covers — with handmade elements. (Birds, a totem of the crafts movement, are big at CB2 as well, where they can be found holding candles and printed on bed linens and pillow covers.)

Those vintage toys and handmade furnishings are one way Marta Calle, CB2’s director, has tried to temper the company’s identification with an aesthetic of hard edges and high gloss. “When I first came on the brand, it was a little cold, a little sterile,” said Ms. Calle, who joined the company in 2004. This is her answer, she said, to the question of “how do you add texture to the store?”

Needless to say, many of the artisans have benefited as well.

Jason Lewis, 36, one of the craftsmen hired by CB2, was making furniture to order at his shop in Chicago before he began working with the company two years ago.

Since then, he has hand-built an edition of 200 American black walnut side tables, which the company sells for about $400 each, roughly half of what Mr. Lewis would have had to charge if he were building them one at a time in his shop, he said. All were made over the course of a summer, in a kind of artisanal assembly line he created in his studio.

“I felt like an employee at a Ford plant,” he said, “drilling 1,200 holes in a day or two.”

Mr. Lewis has also designed several chairs that the retailer is mass-producing in China. His relationship with CB2, he said, is “slowly transforming my business, in terms of raising my profile. Before, my market was local. Now I’m seeing orders from around the country.”

DECORATING, said Stephen Drucker, the former editor of House Beautiful, “always has two goals: comfort and display.”

“A 1930s pickling jar from Hungary, or anything Etsy,” he continued, “serves the same purpose as a 20-pound Swedish crystal ashtray did for my parents: It says, ‘We’re different, we’re daring, we’re not boring.’ ”

And by mass-marketing those products, said Sarah Firshein, the editor of the real estate and interior design blog Curbed National, “Retailers are making these kinds of objects very available to people who might not be able to otherwise find them, or afford them.”

Molly Erdman, 37, an actress and writer in Los Angeles, agrees. “It’s smart on their part,” she said, referring to the retailers. “They’re trying to let people have that folk-artsy look, but from a place in your local mall, where you can get it.”

And while she pokes fun at the style on her blog, Catalog Living , she’s not immune to the charms of “the cozy stuff,” as she calls it. In fact, Ms. Erdman is the proud owner of “a fake-antique bird cage with a porcelain owl in it” that she bought from the discount retailer Ross. “Here’s the tragedy of it,” she said. “If I saw it in a catalog, I would completely make fun of it. But I was like, ‘I have to have this.’ ”

“My big plan for it, which is even worse,” she added, “is that I want to hang it from the ceiling and put Christmas lights in it. I am spending too much time looking at these Web sites. It has affected me.”

That wouldn’t surprise Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, an interior designer who founded the widely read Web site Apartment Therapy. He maintains that the style’s popularity has been a decade in the making, and that it won’t be fading any time soon.

“People are looking for things that are authentic,” he said. “I think it started happening after 2001: first there was 9/11, followed by recession. There was a certain exhaustion with the shiny and perfect. People didn’t relate to it anymore.”

But the vintage and artisanal, he said, “will resonate with people as long as we live in these times.”

Maybe not with everyone, though. As Dmitri Siegel put it: “When you pile Etsy on top of Etsy, it gets really cacophonous: ‘Everything in here is totally unique!’ It starts canceling itself out.”

Mr. Siegel, 38, who moved to Ventura, Calif., from Philadelphia this fall with his wife, Woodwyn Koons, 36, and their 4-year-old son, Arlo, lost nearly everything, including a large collection of vintage furnishings, when their moving van caught fire.

The moving company returned a few things that could be salvaged, including a vintage apple-green dining table and a 19th-century illustration of “furry animals in a pastoral scene,” as Ms. Koons described it, bought at a flea market in the Berkshires.

But “it felt kind of weird,” said Mr. Siegel, who was until recently the executive director of marketing for Urban Outfitters and is now vice president for global e-commerce at Patagonia. While their one-of-a-kind furnishings fit seamlessly into their old home, none of it seemed right for their new life.

“I had a whole vintage teacup collection that is now so hideous to me,” Ms. Koons said. “I feel like I am going to make my own fire and torch it all.”

As they began furnishing their new house from scratch, they found themselves choosing pieces with clean, modern lines that “could be a backdrop for whatever we were interested in at the moment,” Mr. Siegel said. In other words, he said, “not trying to express your personality and your total individuality with every single thing in your house.”

Ms. Koons, who recently completed her doctorate in clinical psychology, calls it a “very unornamental aesthetic.”

What does that mean to her?

“No bird pillows,” she said. “And actually, we had a lot of bird pillows. I had two bird duvets. I had birds on the wall. So it’s a real about-face.”

Plush Life

Photo By Bill Greenblatt/Getty Images

In July of 1999, I traveled with my family to Tenby, Wales. The town is said to be picturesque, but I have no memory of its scenery—except for a small toy store we passed on our drive in. As soon as we settled into our hotel, my sister and I begged our father to trek to the shop and search for the Britannia Beanie Baby, sold exclusively in the United Kingdom. The Britannia bear wasn’t just a toy, we explained it was an investment, projected to be worth thousands of dollars within a decade. Our father capitulated and bought us each a Britannia bear, which we dutifully kept in mint condition with the tag intact, reveling in its rarity while dreaming of the day it would be a hugely valuable collector’s item.

One month later, the company that developed Beanie Babies abruptly announced that it would stop producing the toys at the end of the year, both anticipating and precipitating the burst of the Beanie Babies bubble. Sellers panicked, buyers lost interest, and by the start of the new millennium, Beanie Babies had swung from an economic and cultural phenomenon to a tired punch line. Today, the Britannia Beanie Baby sells for $10 on eBay. My own Britannia lies buried in a box in the back of my closet along with hundreds of other Beanie Babies, where it has sat, untouched, for 15 years.

From this distance, it’s easy to laugh at Beanie Baby fever, to mock it as just another pointless fad in a chintzy, hollow decade. But in the latter part of the 1990s, Beanie Babies were so much more than a fad: They were a mania, an obsession that ensnared not just gullible children but also otherwise responsible adults who lost all sense of perspective over these plush playthings. People sold—and bought—some rare Beanie Babies for $5,000 each and expected others to skyrocket in value within a decade. (Collectors were careful to keep each toy’s tag attached and protected by a plastic case a Beanie Baby’s worth was said to fall by 50 percent once the tag was removed.) Looking back, it’s clear that the Beanie Baby craze was an economic bubble, fueled by frenzied speculation and blatantly baseless optimism. Bubbles are quite common, but bubbles over toys are not. Why did America lose its mind over stuffed animals?

Zac Bissonnette’s new book The Great Beanie Baby Bubble does an excellent job explaining the basic economic factors behind Beanie Babies’ success. Ty Warner, the mastermind behind the toys, had a remarkable talent for manipulating supply and demand. (He’s also a borderline recluse and a profoundly troubled man among other things, Warner repeatedly dated the same women as his father—at the same time—and became a plastic surgery addict.) First, Warner understuffed his toys so that they were flexible and “looked real,” in his words. Second, he sold only small batches of each new Beanie Baby to independent businesses, refusing to supply large quantities to big-box retailers and fixing the price of each toy at $5. Third, Warner “retired” every animal after a fairly short amount of time, introducing a new toy in its stead. This strategy created a near-hysteria each time a Beanie Baby was released, sending fans rushing out to local stores to buy the new toy before supplies disappeared forever.

All of this explains, in simple market terms, how Warner manipulated supply and demand to build a frenzy for his product. But Bissonnette’s book is disappointingly short on psychological explanations for why Americans were eager to shell out at least hundreds of millions of dollars for rather conventional toys. (The total spent on Beanie Babies is unclear because ever-secretive Warner refused to release his company’s earnings.) In one sardonic passage, Bissonnette cites Sigmund Freud’s belief that “the root of collecting” lies in “sex and toilet training,” as “the collector … directs his surplus libido into an inanimate object: a love of things.” Bissonnette also hypothesizes that collecting Beanie Babies “reflect[s] a regression to the soothing and comfort provided by objects during childhood,” and that the acquisition of a scarce, valued item activates our endorphins.

While Freudian theory hasn’t held up well to scientific analysis, some sort of mental disturbance might account for the more extreme cases of Beanie Baby addiction—like the retired soap opera star who lost his children’s six-figure college fund investing in the toys, or the man who committed murder over what a detective described as a “Beanie Baby deal gone bad.” But does it really explain what sent millions of Americans—soccer moms and CEOs, blue-collar workers and yuppies, Ph.D.s and high-school dropouts—utterly bonkers over a brand of plush stuffed animals?

A paper by David Tuckett and Richard Taffler, two economics professors with training in psychoanalytical theory, suggests Bissonnette’s conjecture isn’t that far off. Tuckett and Taffler specifically examine the dot-com bubble, but their theory applies to all modern bubbles. According to the economists, humans occasionally view exciting new creations as “phantastic objects,” which overwhelm us and skew our sense of reason. Our brains begin to tell us that by obtaining these “magical” objects, we will achieve some profound level of satisfaction—something akin to transcendence. The thrill of the chase then muffles our ability to rationally evaluate the actual worth of the object, and others’ willingness to go along with our fantasy reinforces our suspension of logic.

All this theorizing may sound like so much argle-bargle. But the meat of Tuckett and Taffler’s thesis builds on a famous theory of bubbles by renowned economist Charles Kindleberger. According to Kindleberger, every bubble has four basic stages: a grand new development that shocks the market “euphoria” over that development a sudden “boom” in sales and speculation and, eventually, panic when the bubble bursts. Tuckett and Taffler approve of Kindleberger’s model, adding a coda—“revulsion”—to describe the collective hangover society experiences when it realizes it has invested in junk.

In the Kindleberger model (with the Tuckett/Taffler twist), Beanie Babies are a kind of magical object whose plush perfection captured the imagination of a small subset of early adopters. Soon Beanie Baby collectors sprang up to spread the toy’s transcendent joy, and then everybody needed each new Beanie Baby to complete his or her collection. But Warner limited the number of each animal produced, leading both buyers and sellers scrambling to purchase new releases and, in the process, wildly overvaluing their worth. Eventually, the fantasy faded—for most people, after all, Beanie Babies do not bring about nirvana—and the bubble burst. Buyers lost interest, sellers struggled to offload their surpluses, and the whole country felt rather gross about fixating on stuffed animals.

Andrew Odlyzko, a mathematician and bubble expert, proposes a simpler theory explaining speculative panics in his study on the British Railway Mania of the 1840s. Odlyzko credits Railway Mania in part to a “collective hallucination,” an extreme form of groupthink wherein a significant chunk of society feverishly buys into a shared dream with no regard for the skeptics and naysayers. (Some scholars think Jesus’ resurrection might have been an acute instance of collective hallucination.)

The existence of groupthink has been confirmed in a rich assortment of studies, and Odlyzko’s theory expands the idea to economic bubbles. Under his analysis, the initial coterie of Beanie Baby collectors comprised an in-group that shared the great secret of Beanie Babies’ worth. As more people discovered the toy, they yearned to learn this secret and partake in the impending financial success of the Beanie Babies market. Soon, millions of Americans were gripped by the conviction that they had discovered an easy path to personal wealth. And thanks to their collective hallucination of Beanie Babies’ worth, none of these collectors ever realized that the only thing driving the Beanie Babies market was their own conviction that the toys were valuable.

These theories may explain the mass delusions that enabled a large chunk of the country to believe that a $5 Beanie Baby could eventually be worth thousands. What they never quite get at, however, is that initial spark of fascination: how the ineffable appeal of Beanie Babies turned them, and not one of a thousand other 1990s trends, into a collective mania. That allure can probably never be quantified.

But those who once loved Beanie Babies may still remember it. I certainly do, because I remember when I got my very first Beanie Baby. I was 7 and had just woken up from adenoidectomy surgery to see a family friend through the anesthesia haze. She leaned over my bed and laid Bruno the Bull Terrier Dog by my head. I grabbed Bruno, closed my eyes as the room started spinning, and threw up. Bruno stayed with me through my convalescence, and long after I lost interest in Beanie Babies, he remained perched on my nightstand. There was something sweet and comforting and innocent about him, something so tender and gentle and warm. Bruno was the kind of toy Ty Warner was trying to make for children when he accidentally created a speculative mania for adults.

In 2013, Warner pleaded guilty to tax evasion after admitting to hiding millions of dollars in a Swiss bank account. He was sentenced to probation but may face years of prison time if the Justice Department’s appeal is successful. Bruno the Bull Terrier Dog now sits at the back of my closet with hundreds of other floppy, forlorn toys. Today he sells for 36 cents, with the tag still attached.

Meanwhile, teenagers and young adults display riskier behavior. There are many developmental factors in play that lead them to take more risks. Risk-based behaviors decrease as people age.

Scientific Studies on Framing

In a study conducted by Tversky and Kahneman, participants were asked to pick one of two treatments for an illness. In this scenario, there were 600 people who had a fatal disease.

  1. Treatment one was said to fail for 400 people, and therefore, they would die.
  2. Treatment two had a 33 percent chance of effectiveness for everyone, and a 66 percent chance that everyone would die.
  • Participants picked the first treatment when it was framed that 200 people would live.
  • Seventy-two percent of people supported this type of framing.
  • When framed as 400 people would die, it dropped to 22 percent support.

Both framings had the same information, but the spin on each ultimately determined whether or not people were willing to support it.

Let's look at another study, this one involving registration for students. In one 2009 case, early registration was framed to students. There were two kinds of framings in this situation.

  1. One framed it as, "If you didn't register early, you would get fined."
  2. Another framed it by saying, "If you registered early, you would get a discount."

With the discount framing, 65 percent of students registered, which is great. However, when framed as a fine, almost everyone registered. It seemed that when the information was framed as a loss, more people were inclined to do it. People would rather avoid losing something than have a small gain.

In another study, a minority of people supported "forbidding public condemnation of democracy," while most were opposed to it if it were allowed. People don't seem to support something if the framing suggests that it will take something away.

Examples from the real world exist too. Economic policy is framed strategically when it is presented by policymakers. When a proposal is framed that it will positively contribute to employment, it will gain support. However, if the same proposal is framed through unemployment rates, fewer people are likely to support it. Framing is all over our legal system as well. Pretrial imprisonment leads to a higher incidence rate of plea deals. People who have been imprisoned are more likely to be released immediately than await a trial that could more accurately determine their sentence.


How Does Framing Influence You?

Some people have social anxieties, insecurities, or other mental health issues that make them highly susceptible to framing. Being manipulated by the social strategies of others puts you in a vulnerable position. Expert framers can take advantage of people who don't understand. It could be that you see this pattern in your own life and relationships. If this is the case for you, consider seeking help from an in-person or online therapist.

Sometimes we don&rsquot have time to travel to a therapist&rsquos office. Online therapy is great option. A literature review has shown that online therapy is as effective as face-to-face therapy. The review consisted of sixty-five articles, which found that client satisfaction was positive and clinical outcomes were comparable to traditional therapy for a diverse population receiving different therapeutic treatments.

BetterHelp is an online community of mental health professionals who can help. If you see yourself being taken advantage of or routinely manipulated, you can reach out to one of our licensed counselors and gain the strategies that you need to overcome these habits and gain confidence. You can meet with a therapist in the comfort of your own home and at a time that fits in with your schedule. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors.

Counselor Reviews

"I was skeptical of BetterHelp and therapy in general. After my first call with Dr. Cox Lance, I knew I made the right choice. She was patient and listened to my problems. She helped me identify my goals and ways to change my perspective on problems and annoyances I faced. Strongly recommend."

"She's great at what she does. She really helped me change my perspective on life. If I had to do it all over again, I'd do it with her without any doubt."

Becoming aware of the framing effect can help you critically evaluate any given choice that's presented to you. Too many people will automatically pick the decision that sounds the best without looking at it through critical thinking. It can turn out that your decision has more risks but was framed in a way that makes it seem nicer. Awareness can help you make better decisions. Learning how to make better decisions and how to take risks that can benefit you is possible &ndash you just need the right tools. You can take the first step today.

The Psychology of Advertising

"Advertisements are sometimes spoken of as the nervous system of the business world . As our nervous system is constructed to give us all the possible sensations from objects, so the advertisenent which is comparable to the nervous system must awaken in the reader as many different kinds of images as the object itself can excite"

[This article, the first of a series of studies of Modern Advertising, has been written by Walter D. Scott, Assistant Professor of Psychology in Northwestern University.—THE EDITORS.]

The only method of advertising known to the ancients was the word of mouth. The merchant who had wares to offer brought them to the gate of a city and there cried aloud, making the worth of his goods known to those who were entering the city, and who might be induced to turn aside and purchase them. We are not more amused by the simplicity of the ancients than we are amazed at the magnitude of the modern systems of advertising. From the day when Boaz took his stand by the gate to advertise Naomi's parcel of land by crying, "Ho, . turn aside," to the day when Barnum billed the towns for his three-ringed circus, the evolution in advertising had been gradual, but it had been as great as that from the anthropoid ape to P. T. Barnum himself.

As soon as printed symbols were invented the advertising man made use of them to give publicity to his merchandise. We find advertisements engraved on walls and tombs, written on parchment and papyrus, and printed by the first printing presses. Although these various forms of advertising were employed, but little thought and care seem to have been expended upon them. Postells, painted signs, street-car placards, booklets, calendars, almanacs, handbills, magazine and newspaper advertising have now become forms of advertising so well established that we look upon them as a necessity, and are surprised to learn that most of them are modern innovations.

The first advertisement printed in English appeared in the Imperial Intelligencer in March, 1648. Advertising in magazines was not begun until comparatively recent times. For instance, the first advertisement appeared in Harper's Magazine in 1864. In this magazine more space has been devoted to advertising during the past year than the sum total of space for the twenty-four years from 1864 to 1887, inclusive. Indeed, advertising may be said to have been in its swaddling clothes until about the year 1887. The most rapid development has taken place during the last fifteen years. The change has been so great that the leading advertisers say that in comparison with to-day there was in existence fifteen years ago no advertising worthy of the name.

The gain in the quantity of advertising can be seen by observing the increase in the number of pages devoted to advertisements in any of our publications. The month of October is regarded as the typical month, therefore we present the number of pages devoted to advertisements for the month of October in Harper's Magazine for each year from the first appearance of advertisements in that magazine to the present time,—1864, 3 ¼ '65. 2 '66, 3 '67, 6 '68, 7 1/3 '69, 5 1/3 '70, 4 ½ '71, 3 ½ '72, 2 '73, 1 '74. 0 '75, 0 '76, 0 '77, 0 '78, 0 '79, 0 '80, 0 '81, 0 '82, 1 ¼ '83, 8 ½ '84, 8 '85, 11 ½ '86, 20 '87, 37 '88, 54 '89, 48: '90, 73 '91 80 ½ '92, 87 '93, 77 ½ '94, 75 ¾ '95, 78 ¼ '96, 73 '97, 80 ¾ '98, 81 ¾ '99, 106 ¾ 1900, 97 ½ '01, 93 ½ '02, 128 '03, 141.

It will be noticed in the data as given above that during the years of special prosperity there was a very great increase in the volume of advertising while there was but a slight falling off following a financial depression. The increase was not pronounced until about 1887, but from that time on it has been very marked, not only in Harper's, but in almost all of our publications.

There has not only been an increase in the number of advertising pages in the individual publications, but the number of publications has increased enormously of recent years. The increase of population in the United States has been rapid during the last fifty years, but the increase in the total number of copies of the different publications has been many fold greater. Thus the distribution of the copies of these periodicals to each individual was as follows:— In 1850 each individual received on the average 18 copies from one or more of these periodicals: in 1860, 29 in 1870, 39 in 1880, 41 in 1890, 74 in 1900, 107.

A significant cause of this increase is the reduction in the subscription price which is made possible because of the profit accruing to such publications from their advertisements. The total income secured from subscriptions for all these publications last year was less than the amount paid for the advertising pages. We have this current year about 20,000 periodicals carrying advertisements, each with a constantly increasing number of pages devoted to them, and with a rapidly advancing rate secured for each advertisement. In addition to this, the increase is phenomenal in the use of booklets, posters. painted signs, street-car placards, almanacs, and many other forms of advertising. One firm is supposed to have distributed 25,000,000 almanacs in a single year.

The expense connected with these various forms of printed advertising reaches far into the millions. One authority puts the total annual expense of printed forms of advertising at six hundred million dollars. This sum does not seem to be an exaggeration. Mr. Post spends as much as six hundred thousand dollars annually in advertising his food products. One million dollars was spent last year in advertising Force. Over six hundred thousand dollars is spent annually in advertising Ayer's remedies and over one million dollars in advertising Peruna.

The advertising rate has been advanced repeatedly in many magazines during the last few years. Firms which formerly paid but one hundred dollars for a full-page advertisement in the Century Magazine now pay two hundred and fifty dollars for the same amount of space. The Ladies' Home Journal has increased its advertising rate to six dollars for a single agate line (there are fourteen agate lines to the inch), the width of one column, for a single insertion. The cost of a full page for a single issue is four thousand dollars. The Procter & Gamble Co. have made a three years' contract for a single page in each issue, to he devoted to the advertisement of Ivory Soap. For this space they pay four thousand dollars a mouth, forty-eight thousand dollars a year, and one hundred and forty-four thousand dollars for the term of three years. Think of the risk a firm runs in investing four thousand dollars in a single page advertisement! How can they expect to get back the equivalent of such a sum of money from a single advertisement?

There are very many advertisements that do not pay. One man has roughly estimated that seventy-five per cent of all advertisements do not pay yet the other twenty-five per cent pay so well that there is scarcely a business man who is willing to stand idly by and allow his competitors to do the advertising. The expense connected with advertising has increased the competition between rival firms has become keener and consequently the demand for good advertising has become imperative. The number of unsuccessful advertisements are many, and yet the loss incurred in an unsuccessful advertising campaign is so great that many firms stand aghast at the thought of such an undertaking. Many merchants see the necessity of advertising their business, but feel unable to enter the arena and compete with successful rivals.

The day of reckless, sporadic, haphazard advertising is rapidly coming to an end so far as magazine advertising is concerned. Although the number of pages devoted to advertising in our best magazines has increased during the last ten years, the number of firms advertising in these same magazines has decreased. The struggle has been too fierce for any but the strongest. The inefficient advertisers are gradually being eliminated, and the survival of the fittest seems to be a law of advertising as it is of everything else that develops.

The leaders of the profession feel that their work has grown till it is beyond their control and comprehension. They have been successful, and hardly know how it has all come about. The men who have been the most successful are often the ones who feel most deeply their inability to meet new emergencies. They believe that there should be some underlying principles which could help them in analyzing what they have already accomplished, and assist them in their further efforts. As their entire object is to produce certain effects on the minds of possible customers, it is not strange that they have turned to psychology in search of such principles. Traditionally the practical business man scouts at theory. Psychology, to the popular mind, is something devoid of all practical application, related to metaphysics, and suited only to the recluse and the hermit. If ever there was ground to expect sarcastic and pessimistic prophecies from the hardheaded business man, it was when it was proposed to establish advertising on a theoretical basis deduced from psychology. Such adverse criticism has, however, been the exception. The American business man is not afraid of theories. He wants them, and the more the better.

The best thought of the advertising world finds expression in the advertising journals and in the addresses delivered by various experts at gatherings of professional advertisers. In 1895 in one of the leading advertising journals appeared the following editorial: "Probably when we are a little more enlightened, the advertisement writer, like the teacher, will study psychology. For, however diverse their occupations may at first sight appear, the advertisement writer and the teacher have one great object in common—to influence the human mind. The teacher has a scientific foundation for his work in that direction, but the advertisement writer is really also a psychologist. Human nature is a great factor in advertising success and he who writes advertisements without reference to it is apt to find that he has reckoned without his host." The man who penned this editorial was a practical advertiser, but he admitted of no incongruity between the practical and the theoretical.

In Publicity, for March, 1901, appeared a leading article on psychology and advertising. The following is a quotation from it:—

In in address before the Agate Club of Chicago the speaker said: "As advertisers, all your efforts have been to produce certain effects on the minds of possible customers. Psychology is, broadly speaking, the science of the mind. Art is the doing and science is the understanding how to do, or the explanation of what has been done. If we are able to find and to express the psychological laws upon which the art of advertising is based, we shall have made a distinct advance, for we shall have added the science to the art of advertising."

In a recent address before the Atlas Club of Chicago the speaker said: "In passing to the psychological aspect of our subject, advertising might properly be defined as the art of determining the will of possible customers. . . . Our acts are the resultants of our motives, and it is your function in commercial life to create the motives that will effect the sale of the producer's wares."

In response to this felt need on the part of the advertiser, several students of psychology have tried to select those principles of psychology which might be of benefit to the advertiser, and to present them to the advertising world through pamphlets, 1 magazine articles, 2 public addresses, 3 and, in one case at least, by means of a book. 4

The method employed by the psychologist in attempting to give advertising a theoretical basis has been quite uniform. He has first analyzed the human mind into its various activities, then analyzed advertisements to discover what there is in them that may or may not awaken the activity desired. This method can best be understood from an example. For an illustration we shall consider Mental Imagery as understood by the psychologist and in its application to advertising.

The man who is born blind is not only unable to see objects, but he is equally unable to imagine how they look. After we have looked at objects we can see them in our mind's eye with more or less distinctness, even if our eyes are closed or the object is far removed from us. When we imagine how an absent object looks we are said to have a visual image of it. We cannot imagine how a thing looks unless we have actually seen it in our previous experience. The imagination can take the data of former experience and unite them into new forms, but all the details of the new formation must be taken from the former experience of the individual.

The man who is born deaf can neither hear nor imagine what sounds are like. Whatever we have heard, we can live over again in imagination,—we can form auditory images of it. We cannot imagine any sound which we have not actually heard, although we can unite into new combinations the sounds and tones which we have experienced.

I can imagine how beefsteak tastes, but I cannot imagine the taste of hashish, for in all my past experience I never have tasted it, and do not even know which one of my former experiences it is like. If I knew that it tasted like pepper, or like pepper and vinegar mixed, I could form some sort of an image of its taste but as it is I am perfectly helpless when I try to imagine it. I can, with more or less success, imagine how everything tastes which I have eaten, but I cannot imagine the taste of a thing which I have not touched to my tongue. Analogous descriptions could be given of images of movements, of smell, of touch, of heat, of cold, of pressure, and of pain.

We have no direct knowledge of the minds of our neighbors we assume that their thinking is very much like ours, for their actions—outward expressions of thought—are so similar to ours. It was formerly assumed that, given any particular object of thought, all normal minds would reach the same conclusion concerning it, and, furthermore, the different stages in the line of thought and the "mind stuff" would be the same throughout. Such a conception is wholly false. Normal minds reach different conclusions under apparently identical outward circumstances, but there is a greater difference in the terms of thought, or the mind stuff with which the thinking is done. One man thinks in terms of sight. He is said to be "eye-minded." His thinking is a rapid succession of pictures. When he thinks of a violin he thinks rather how it looks than how it sounds.

Another man thinks in terms of sound. He is "ear-minded." His thinking is a succession of sounds. When he thinks of his friends he hears their voices, but cannot possibly imagine how they look. He does not know that there are other possible forms of thought, and so assumes that all people think in terms of sound as he does. If he should describe a battle his description would be full of the roar and tumult of the strife. Another man is "motor-minded." He thinks in terms of movements. Even when he looks at a painting he whispers inaudibly to himself a description of the painting. Later when he describes the picture to a friend he may do it in the terms which he whispered to himself when he was looking at the picture.

Thus it has been found that there are great personal differences in normal individuals in their ability to form certain classes of mental images.

All persons seem to be able to form at least unclear and indistinct visual images most persons seem to have some ability in forming auditory images very many can imagine movements with some degree of satisfaction. There are many who cannot imagine how pickles taste others cannot imagine the odor of a flower. There are persons who have a limited ability to form all sorts of images, but most persons have a very decided ability for one class and a corresponding weakness for others. This difference in the ease with which certain classes of images can be formed, as well as the difference in individuals in imagining different classes of sensations, is followed with practical consequences.

In a former age the seller, the buyer, and the commodity were brought together. The seller described and exhibited his wares. The buyer saw the goods, heard of them, tasted them, smelt them, felt, and lifted them. He tested them by means of every sense organ to which they could appeal. In this way the buyer became acquainted with the goods. His perception of them was as complete as it could be made. In these latter days the market-place has given way to the office. The consequent separation of buyer, seller, and commodity made the commercial traveler with his sample case seem a necessity. But, with the glowing volume of business, and with the increased need for more economical forms of transacting business, the printed page, as a form of advertisement, has superseded the market-place, and is, in many cases, displacing the commercial traveler. In this transition from the market-place and the commercial traveler to the printed page, the advertiser must be on his guard to preserve as many as possible of the good features of the older institutions. In the two older forms of barter all the senses of the purchaser were appealed to, if possible, and in addition to this the word of mouth of the seller was added to increase the impressions, and to call special attention to the strong features of the commodity. In the printed page the word of mouth is the only feature which is of necessity entirely absent. Indeed, the printed page cannot appeal directly to any of the senses except the eye, but the argument may be of such a nature that the reader's senses are appealed to indirectly through his imagination.

The function of our nervous system is to make us aware of the sights, sounds, feelings, tastes, etc, of the objects in our environment, and the more sensations we receive from an object the better we know it. The nervous system which does not respond to sound or to any other of the sensible qualities is a defective nervous system. Advertisements are sometimes spoken of as the nervous system of the business world. That advertisement of musical instruments which contains nothing to awaken images of sound is a defective adverthement. That advertisement of foods which contains nothing to awaken images of taste is a defective advertisenient. As our nervous system is constructed to give us all the possible sensations from objects, so the advertisenent which is comparable to the nervous system must awaken in the reader as many different kinds of images as the object itself can excite.

A person can he appealed to most easily and most effectively through his dominating imagery. Thus one who has visual images that are very clear and distinct appreciates descriptions of scenes. The one who has strong auditory imagery delights in having auditory images awakened. It is in general best to awaken as many different classes of images as possible, for in this way variety is given, and each reader is appealed to in the sort of imagery which is the most pleasing to him, in which he thinks most readily, and by means of which he is most easily influenced.

One of the great weaknesses of the present day advertising is found in the fact that the writer of the advertisement fails to appeal thus indirectly to the senses. How many advertisers describe a piano so vividly that the reader can hear it? How many food products are so described that the reader can taste the food? How many advertisements describe a perfume so that the reader can smell it? How many describe an undergarment so that the reader can feel the pleasant contact with his body? Many advertisers seem never to have thought of this, and make no attempt at such descriptions.

The cause of this deficiency is twofold. In the first place, it is not easy in type to appeal to any other sense than that of sight. Other than visual images are difficult to awaken when the means employed is the printed page. In the second place, the individual writers are deficient in certain forms of mental imagery, and therefore are not adepts in describing articles in terms which to themselves are not significant. This second ground for failure in writing effective advertisemerits will be made clear by the examples taken from current advertisements which are quoted below.

A piano is primarily not a thing to look at or an object for profitable investment, but it is a musical instrument. It might be beautiful and cheap, but still be very undesirable. The chief thing about a piano is the quality of its tone. Many advertisers of pianos do not seem to have the slightest appreciation of this fact.

When they attempt to describe a piano they seem as men groping in the dark. Their statements are general and meaningless. As an example of such a failure the advertisement of the Knabe Piano is typical:—

Its successful growth and experience of nearly seventy years guarantees to new friends the greatest degree to tried and tested excellence, judged from any standpoint of criticism or comparison.


This is a half-page advertisement, but it contains no illustration, makes no reference to tone or to any other quality of music, and does not even suggest that the Knabe is a musical instrument at all. Many advertisers describe the appearance and durability of the case or the cost of the entire instrument, but ordinarily their statements are so general that the advertisement could be applied equally well to perfumes, fountain pens, bicycles, automobiles, snuff, or sausages, but would be equally inefficient if used to advertise any of them. They do not describe or refer in any way to the essential characteristics of a piano. They awaken no images of sound they do not make us hear a piano in our imagination.

The following is a quotation in full of an advertisement of the Vose Piano, but with the words "sewing machine" substituted for "piano." This advertisement, like the one quoted above, contains no illustration, and it will be noted that there is nothing in the text which does not apply equally well to a sewing machine.

Have been Established over 51 Years
They are perfect examples of sewing machine strength. The Construction of the Vose is the result of fifty years of development and the application of the highest mechanical skill to the production of each separate part.

By our easy payment plan, every family in moderate circumstances can own a fine sewing machine. We allow a liberal price for old instruments in exchange, and deliver the sewing machine in your house free of expense. You can deal with us at a distant point the same as in Boston. Send for our descriptive catalogue H, which gives full information.


Many of the advertisements of the Emerson, Weber, Everett, and of a few other piano firms are equally poor attempts to present the desirable features of pianos.

In recent advertisements of the Blasius piano an attempt is made to present a piano as a musical instrument. A music score is used as the background of the advertisement there is a cut of a young lady playing the piano and in the text appear these expressions: "Excellent tone," "the sweetest tone I ever heard," "sweet and melodious in tone," "like a grand church organ for power and volume: and a brilliant, sweet-tuned piano in one." Thus the background, the illustration, and the text all unite to awaken images of sound, and to suggest that about a piano which is the real ground for desiring such an instrument.

In determining which foods I shall eat it is a matter of some importance to know how the goods are manufactured, what the prices are, how they are prepared for the table, and whether they are nourishing or harmful to my system. The one essential element, however, is the taste. When I look over a bill of fare I choose what I think will taste good. When I order groceries I order what pleases and tickles my palate. I want the food that makes me smack my lips, that makes my mouth water. Under these circumstances all other considerations are minimized to the extreme.

In advertisements of food products it is surprising to note that many foods are advertised as if they had no taste at all. One would suppose that the food was to be taken by means of a hypodermic injection, and not by the ordinary process of taking the food into the mouth and hence into contact with the organ of taste. The advertisers seem to be at a loss to know what to say about their foods, and so have, in many cases, expressed themselves in such general terms that their advertisements could be applied to any product whatever.

The following is the complete text of a full-page advertisement which appeared in recent magazines. The only change is that here we have substituted "scouring soap" for the name of the commodity:

The illustration was that of a grocer looking at a package which might as well have been scouring soap as Quaker Oats. There is nothing to suggest taste.

Some advertisers of food are evidently chronic dyspeptics, and take it for granted that all others are in the same condition. They have nothing to say about their foods except that they have wonderful medicinal properties. To me a food which is only healthful savors of hospitals and sickrooms, and is something which a well man would not want.

There are other advertisers who appreciate the epicurean tendency of the ordinary man and woman. They describe food in such a way that we immediately want what they describe. The man who wrote the following advertisement belongs to this class:

The picture represents a beautiful young lady presenting a gentleman with the commodity described.

This advertisement has character and individuality. Its statements could not be applied to anything but foods, and, indeed, to nothing but Nabisco. They do not say that Nabisco is healthy, but when I read them I feel sure that Nabisco would agree with me.

This illustration of the way in which one chapter of psychology (Mental Imagery) can be applied to advertising is but one of a score of illustrations which could be given. Psychology has come to be one of the most fascinating of all the sciences, and bids fair to become of as great practical benefit as physics and chemistry. As these latter form the theoretical basis for all forms of industry which have to do with matter, so psychology must form the theoretical basis for all forms of endeavor which deal with mind.

The householder in glancing through his morning paper has his attention caugnt by the more attractive advertisements. The mechanic in going to and from his place of employment whiles away his time in looking at the display cards in the trolley or the elevated cars. The business man can scarcely pass a day without being forced to look at the advertisements which stare at him from the bill boards. The members of the family turn over the advertising pages in their favorite magazine, not because they are forced to, but because they find the advertisements so interesting and instructive. These persons are oblivious to the enormous expense which the merchant has incurred in securing these results. They are unconscious of the fact that the results secured are the ones sought for, and that in planning the advertising campaign the merchant has made a study of the minds of these same householders, mechanics, business men, and members of the family. Advertising is an essential factor in modern business methods, and to advertise wisely the business man must understand the workings of the minds of his customers, and must know how to influence them effectively,—he must know how to apply psychology to advertising.

1 On the Psychology of Advertising. Professor HARLOW GALE, author and publisher: Minneapolis, Minn. 1900.

2 Mahin's Magazine, Chicago. This magazine contains monthly articles on The Psychology of Advertising.

3 Found in the published proceedings of the various advertising clubs.

4 The Theory of Advertising. By WALTER DILL SCOTT. Boston: Small, Maynard & Co. 1903.

Psychology Of Color In Interior Design

Choosing the right color is crucial to setting the tone and purpose of a room.

As a rule, lighter colors will feel more open and light like the sky, whereas darker colors give off a heavy feeling and can make you feel more enclosed.

The more white added to a hue, the more light it is able to reflect whereas darker colors absorb light. Beware of overpowering your home with too much darkness when choosing some of your favorite colors.

Neutral colors – versatile for many uses

Brown represents: a neutral color that can feel very grounding in accents as it associated in the mind with wood, organics, and stability. Be careful of overuse though, as monochromatic areas may dull your senses or make you sleepy. If you aren’t a big color fan, try to add some brighter accents to the room.

White represents: purity, goodness, and cleanliness. Too much white is sometimes associated with sterility, like in a medical setting. White can be elegant and open up a space when used in moderation with strategic color-pop accents. This color is also great for walls in a smaller room that you want to make feel larger.

Black is not recommended for a dominant color in any room, except maybe a home theater. This color is powerful, elegant, and best used in moderation. It can serve as a grounding agent to balance a lighter colored room or add contrast.

Warmer Colors – energize and increase appetite.

Red represents: fire, love, and anger – it reminds us of passionate energy. This color can increase metabolism and blood pressure – for better or worse. This powerful color should be used sparingly or for a specific purpose. In Feng Shui, red represents good fortune.

Pink represents: happiness, love, and peace. It is a great option for lovers of red as a calming alternative. Great for children’s bedrooms.

Colder Colors – relax the mind and decrease appetite.

Blue represents: confidence, openness, and stability. The most popular colors for living rooms is light blue for calming, but avoid darker blues as they can invoke feelings of sadness.

Purple represents: luxury, ambition, creativity, and wealth. This is a very versatile color for almost any room or purpose.

View Our Design Gallery For Color Inspiration

The best way to find inspiration is to look at other designs. View our photo gallery for examples of our favorite styles.

Feng Shui Design Styles For Curtains, Living Rooms, and Overall Happiness

Feng Shui principles state that mimicking the outdoors in your home will put you in a permanent good mood, optimize your health, and generally improve your life.

These tips will help every place in your home to integrate natural elements within the psychology of interior design to reduce physical, mental, and emotional stress.

Use the following strategies to better adhere with Feng Shui concepts:

  • Maximize natural light or mimic it while matching the lighting of the earth’s rotation.
  • Declutter your home to remove distractions and improve your productivity.
  • Use plants in living areas to improve air quality, relaxation, inspiration, and focus.
  • Balance natural elements (fire, earth, water metal, etc.) for more interest and depth.
  • Create energy flow with no path roadblocks with a clean area for a productive and happy room.
  • Place tributes to your personal goals and passions in each room that represent what you think about or achieve in those places. Add inspirational designs to every object, color, and texture in your room as food for positive thought.

This only skimmed the tip of information for Feng shui in interior design principles. The design of your room has a large influence on the psychology of interior design for your home and there are endless ways to improve your mood that are easy to do.

Being in the moment and understanding your feelings inside a room are the first steps to making a difference in your home. You need to find fabric, textures, designs that work best in your home for you and your guests.

Since we all have different feelings to colors and designs, these tips won’t work for everyone!

We hope these ideas are helpful and that you will share with a friend to also help improve their mood on a daily basis.

The personal totems that inspire you may not be the same to the others. Realize certain rooms you may be designed for other people beyond yourself and not everyone is going to be reminded of the sun when they look at yellow.

Ready To Call In The Professionals?

Working with a professional designer will help you to focus your aims and help you decide what is the best option to utilize your space. Third party perspectives are important. Working with a designer will help you make good decisions to improve your emotions at home.

We are a professional window coverings company in LA and often find that window fashions are overlooked. They are that finishing touch that really pulls the room together. If you are looking to make a fast change to your home, updating your window coverings is a choice that will last for decades and inspire you ever day.

Our experienced designers have varying styles and look forward to answering ANY of your questions!

The comfort and appeal of vintage objects? - Psychology

“Tidying can transform your life.” This is the beguiling promise from Japanese decluttering evangelist Marie Kondo. Around 11 million people have bought her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and millions more have tuned in to watch her in action on Netflix in the hope of learning how to emulate Kondo’s brand of minimalistic bliss.

Her “KonMari” method of decluttering is straightforward – tidy your home by category instead of by room, pull everything out before sorting it out, take in the full horror of your materialism, and keep only things that are useful or “spark joy”. Nothing is safe from her mission to reduce the amount of stuff in our lives – clothes, kitchen utensils, paperwork and most controversially, books, are sifted through, assessed and discarded.

Kondo is far from the only one advocating this simpler, tidier lifestyle. In the UK, Sophie Hinchliffe, better known as Mrs Hinch, has been demonstrating to her Instagram followers and TV viewers how having a cleaner, tidier home can lead to a better life, while in California, professional organiser Beth Penn has written a book and set up her own company to help people sort out their stuff. There are dozens of other books and decluttering services to be found with a quick search of the internet.

Tidying can be a daunting task which is perhaps why professional "organisers" have gained popularity in recent years (Credit: Getty Images)

But for most of us, piles of clutter may not seem like a big deal. It might mean we struggle to find a clear surface to put a glass down on occasionally or we end up stubbing a toe on a carelessly misplaced pile of sports equipment, but it doesn’t make our life any worse. In fact, most of us quite like our stuff – it helps to turn the buildings we live in into homes and can give us a rush of satisfaction.