The gloss bias

A while ago I bought a little (shiny) book called “The Pocket Universal Principles of Design”. It’s quite interesting and I can recommend it to anyone who wants to learn something in snippets, on the go. Hey, it even turns out that the authors created a course on starting from this very book.

In short, clear sentences, the authors describe 150 design principles that designers and non-designers could and should find fascinating. One of them is the gloss bias, which is simply “a preference for glossy verss dull objects”. This means that something printed on shiny, high quality paper, will appear more attractive to whoever is reading it, rather than the same content being printed on regular paper. This is regardless of the quality of the content that’s being printed. Better keep this in mind for your next board presentation!

An example of how this bias is used comes from this blog: “This illusion of equity is really a marketing strategy to give a favorable impression to potential purchasers who only flip the pages of books.”

This goes for paper but also lipstick, phones, cars, etc. In the book, the authors suggest it’s because our prehistoric ancestors thought glossy surfaces meant there was water nearby, which was essential to their survival.

If you’d like to read the book, written by W. Lidwell, K. Holden and J. Butler, you can find it here and if you’d like to take their course, here is the link to it.


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