EPÆG is a world-wide network of enthusiastic scientists try to advance the empirical knowledge of the psychological fields of ergonomics, aesthetics and design. EPÆG is hosted at the Department of General Psychology and Methodology (head: Professor Claus-Christian Carbon, PhD; deputy head: Sandra Utz, PhD) at the University of Bamberg, Germany.

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Food research

The variety of fruits and vegetables in today’s supermarkets is enormous. We are interested in how the perception changes when colors, settings and narratives are changes to inform but also entertain people. This stream of research also tries to develop our understanding of food quality and sustainable food.

Schifferstein, H. N. J., Wehrle, T., & Carbon, C. C. (in press). Consumer expectations for vegetables with typical and atypical colors: The case of carrots. Food Quality and Preference.


Experience research

To understanding what people experience while using an innovative product, while watching a piece of art or while listening to music is one of the key challenges in psychology. In our research, we address user, art, and music experience.

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Attractiveness research

What is the magic behind attractive faces, is attractiveness skin deep, why do we look at them, what kind of construct is attractiveness and how to help people to evolve the beauty contest circle? In our research we address all kinds of attractiveness levels and domains. Ultimate goal is to understand how attractiveness is processed and what attractiveness makes with us. This is especially important in a world where so much focus is devoted on this topic but critical reflections are often lacking, particularly when people lose their freedom to create themselves on values beside and beyond beauty, prettiness or sexiness. Further reading:

  • Carbon, C. C., Faerber, S. J., Augustin, M. D., Mitterer, B., & Hutzler, F. (2018). First gender, then attractiveness: Indications of gender-specific attractiveness processing via ERP onsets. Neuroscience Letters, 686, 186-192. {IF=2.159} doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2018.09.009
  • Röder, F. & Carbon, C. C. (2015). Average faces: Skin texture more than facial symmetry predicts attractiveness perceptions of female faces. Perception, 44(S1), 25-26.
  • Carbon, C. C., Grüter, T., Grüter, M., Weber, J. E., & Lueschow, A. (2010). Dissociation of facial attractiveness and distinctiveness processing in congenital prosopagnosia. Visual Cognition, 18(5), 641-654. doi: 10.1080/13506280903462471
  • Carbon, C. C. (2017). Universal principles of depicting oneself across the centuries: From Renaissance self-portraits to selfie-photographs. Frontiers in Psychology: Human-Media Interaction, 8(245), 1-9. doi: 10.3389%2Ffpsyg.2017.00245
  • Schneider, T. M., & Carbon, C.-C. (2017). Taking the Perfect Selfie: Investigating the Impact of Perspective on the Perception of Higher Cognitive Variables. Frontiers in Psychology, 8(971). doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00971. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00971
  • Schneider, T. M., Hecht, H., & Carbon, C. C. (2012). Judging body weight from faces: The height-weight illusion. Perception, 41(1), 121-124. doi:10.1068/p7140
  • Schneider, T. M., Hecht, H., Stevanov, J., & Carbon, C. C. (2013). Cross-ethnic assessment of body weight and height on the basis of faces. Personality and Individual Differences, 55, 356-360. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2013.03.022

ESF-Project “Fit for innovation: Developing creativity and innovativeness in SMEs”

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)—from start-ups to traditional family-run enterprises—need ideas to secure their future. Apart from the ability and the motivation to bring up new ideas (creativity) these have to be successfully implemented (innovativeness). In an ESF-funded project psychologists from the Department of General Psychology and Methodology at the University of Bamberg are currently developing a web-based training program to enhance these competencies in SMEs.

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Multimodal Marketing for SMEs: Five senses for the successful presentation of products and services

Wine tasting, buying new clothes, a test drive in a new car or trying out a music instrument—many purchase decisions are based on multisensory assessment. How do we create a multisensory experience of our products and services that reflects our company’s values/brand image consistently? In the ESF-funded project “Multimodal Marketing for SMEs” we sought for answers to this question. Together with thirteen small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a web-based training program was developed to help SMEs create a consistent positive image of their products and services on the basis of recent findings from cross-modal perception, empirical aesthetics, cognitive ergonomics, and marketing psychology.

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Visual Marketing for SMEs: Using basic research on visual perception and marketing psychology for a successful presentation of products and services

How do we improve conciseness and recognition of our products, services or brands by the targeted use of images and visual design elements? How do we find our own Formensprache? In the ESF-funded project “Visual marketing for SMEs” we sought for answers to these questions. Together with five small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a web-based training program was developed to help SMEs create a consistent positive image of their products and services on the basis of recent findings from visual perception, empirical aesthetics, cognitive ergonomics, and marketing psychology.

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E-mobility

Electric Vehicles (EVs) are propagated as an essential solution for reducing the carbon footprint of traffic activities. One essential barrier to the adoption of electromobility strategies in everyday life is the very limited driving range of typical EVs. A dense and reliable network of electric charging stations would enable safer and longer ranges. Modern fast charging technologies provide additional possibilities to tactically and quickly re-charge EVs, but high implementation costs make it necessary to establish a mixed infrastructure consisting of cheap-but-slow and expensive-but-fast charging stations. We utilized the so-called Safe-Range-Inventory (SRI), a multidimensional assessment tool for capturing multi-facets of subjective range safety assessments. Using scenarios with different infrastructure settings, we revealed that the addition of just one fast-charging option drastically lowers range anxiety even under relatively short emergency range conditions. Additional fast-charging options did not have strong positive effects on the assessments but would amass very high costs. The SRI can assist in the planning of electric charging infrastructures in order to find the right balance between range safety and installation and maintenance costs.


Haptics

Research in aesthetics typically focuses on static stimuli or stimulus properties from the visual domain leaving unanswered a great many questions on haptic aesthetics. We have developed a functional model based on empirical findings and theoretical considerations of haptic aesthetics. This model assumes a continuous increase of elaborative processing through three subsequent processing stages beginning with low-level perceptual analyses that encompass an initial, unspecific exploration of the haptic material. After a subsequent, more elaborate, and specific perceptual assessment of global haptic aspects, the described process enters into deeper cognitive and emotional evaluations involving individual knowledge on the now specified haptic material. The model gives great opportunity to systematically analyze the qualia of aesthetic experiences.

Further information


Illusions

It may be fun to perceive illusions, but the understanding of how they work is even more stimulating and sustainable: They can tell us where the limits and capacity of our perceptual apparatus are found—they can specify how the constraints of perception are set. Furthermore, they let us analyze the cognitive sub-processes underlying our perception. Illusions in a scientific context are not mainly created to reveal the failures of our perception or the dysfunctions of our apparatus, but instead point to the specific power of human perception. The main task of human perception is to amplify and strengthen sensory inputs to be able to perceive, orientate and act very quickly, specifically and efficiently. Our research on perceptual illusions strengthens this line of argument; it makes clear that such illusions and their scientific testing can help us to understand the magic and richness of perception. Read full text.


Innovation

Appreciation of innovative goods requires the fulfilment of several pre-conditions, e.g., before we can admire an innovative design we must have cognitively elaborated it. We have developed a variety of techniques to stimulate such elaboration and to be able to validly measure the acceptance of innovation. Moreover, our techniques enable the prediction of future acceptance which is highly important for all companies and producers aim to deliver most advanced yet acceptable products. Further reading:

  • Carbon, C. C. (2015). Predicting Preferences for Innovative Design: The “Repeated Evaluation Technique” (RET). GfK Marketing Intelligence Review, 7(2), 34-39. DirectLink GfK
  • Planinc, R., Kampel, M., Ortlieb, S., & Carbon, C. C. (2013). User-centered design and evaluation of an ambient event detector based on a balanced scorecard approach. Journal on Advances in Life Sciences, 5(3&4), 237-249. {IF=to be calculated} PDF
  • Carbon, C. C., Faerber, S. J., Gerger, G., Forster, M., & Leder, H. (2013). Innovation is appreciated when we feel safe: On the situational dependence of the appreciation of innovation. International Journal of Design, 7(2), 43-51. {IF=0.632} PDF

Museum research

Aesthetics research aiming at understanding art experience is an emerging field; however, most research is conducted in labs without access to real artworks, without the social context of a museum and without the presence of other persons. The present research field tries to identify key findings of art perception in museum contexts, mainly how art museum visitors inspect, elaborate and discuss artworks in the field. Further reading:

  • Carbon, C. C. (2017). Art perception in the museum: How we spend time and space in art exhibitions. i-Perception, 8(1), 1.15. {IF=1.813} DirectLink i-Perception * Muth, C., Raab, M. H., & Carbon, C. C. (2017). Expecting the unexpected: How gallery-visitors experience Semantic Instability in art. Art & Perception, 5(2), 1-22. DOI: 10.1163/22134913-00002062, Art & Perception

Perceived Quality

Perceived quality is truly a psychological dimension with an enormous importance in assessing the quality of products. Whereas typical quality approaches focus on physical measures, perceived quality is the subjective way of assessing it. As humans finally will decide on which goods and products will be purchased, this psychological view is essential for market success. We have developed a series of techniques and methods to address this issue adequately and holistically. The multisensory perceived quality approach which we follow provides decisive answers to the essential questions: How can we systematically increase perceived quality for first glance as well as elaborated inspections of products?


Mona Lisa entering the 3rd dimension. Can Mona Lisa be a stereoscopic painting?

In January 2012 the Museo del Prado in Madrid announced an astounding discovery: An almost fully restored copy of the Mona Lisa was rediscovered behind the black overpainting of another copy of the Mona Lisa painting, which hitherto was considered as a rather minor version. The similarity between da Vinci’s original and the Prado version is remarkable. Moreover, infrared analyses unveiled similar corrections in both artworks. It is therefore assumed that a pupil of Leonardo produced the Prado version very possibly alongside the master…

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The Height-Weight Illusion. Why do we often look fat on unprofessional/unstandardized photos?

People strongly overestimate body weight for faces photographed from a lower vantage point while underestimating it for faces photographed from a higher vantage point.

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‘Aesthetic Aha’: The pleasure of gaining insight

Positive affect can be gained not only by arriving at an insight but by anticipating it as well.

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The appeal of Semantic Instability: Why we can appreciate art even if we do not solve its mysteries

Many artworks defy an easy consumption; still they are able to reach high popularity, but why?

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Fluency. Ease of processing amplifies affective judgement.

Processing fluency serves as a gratifying explanation for various phenomena, including dynamics in judgements of truth, familiarity, fame, typicality, confidence, and especially liking. Among these dimensions increasing fluency was found to amplify the reactions or judgements. Meanwhile, it is assumed that processing fluency has a hedonic quality because it indicates the successful and error-free perceiving, recognizing and interpreting of a target. We investigated the assumption of hedonic quality and found fluency rather to be sign of unambiguity.

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