What sounds better? Music played from a CD on a high fidelity stereo or music played through an MP3 player or iPod? According to research conducted at Stanford University by Professor Jonathan Berger, today’s iPod generation prefers the sound of digital music. For the past eight years students have participated in an experiment where they rated a variety of audio formats while listening to the same song. He found that in fact, over time, there was an increase in preference for the music played digitally. Their experience changed their perception.
In 1913 the Italian psychologist Mario Ponzo created this image and illusion, where the top line appears to be longer. 100 years ago, he thought it was because how our brain interpreted the space on either side of the lower line. However, new theories on how the brain works suggest the perception is due to our experience. In this case, our experience tells us that the vertical lines are receding, like train tracks, meaning that the horizontal line at the top is longer. Not the case – but it is our perception.
These findings remind me that all consumers have past experiences that help define their reactions and decisions. Knowing just where they are coming from will help us move them in a new direction. The iPod generation believes that digital music is great, not to mention they can carry thousands of songs in a device the size of a match book. Oh, do you remember those? Matchbooks – a great advertising tool from the 1940s.