Do you really look good in those shoes?

Have you seen those floor mirrors at shoe stores that’s just big enough to show the shoes and few inches above it? For a long time, I viewed these floor mirrors as silly gimmick and thought that people shouldn’t be making purchase decisions based on what they see in this type of mirror.
Because, it really doesn’t matter who is standing in front of the mirror. Not only that you don’t see who is wearing the shoes, you don’t even get to see the rest of your outfit.

But it works. These little floor mirrors may have evolved out of budget or space concerns and nothing else, I’m not sure. But, there is definitely a science and psychology behind it explaining why it works.

If you’re the one standing in front of the mirror, you’ll see those shoes one way. If it’s anyone else wearing the same pants and the same pair of shoes, you’ll swear those shoes look different. Even though what you saw in the mirror was pretty much identical in both cases.

Weird… the same pair of shoe look and feel different based on who’s standing there even if you can’t see who is standing there.

So, what’s happening when you’re staring down at that silly little mirror? It turns out, what your brain sees is not always the same with what you see with your eyes. Even if you’re not seeing the complete picture, your brain is completing it for you. The brain automatically draws the image of you, your clothes, makeup, or jewelry even though they don’t appear in the mirror. Therefore, your mind is able to determine whether that pair is a good match for you or a no-go.
The brain would adjust the picture accordingly if it’s someone else in front of the mirror. All this happens without our conscious control. The brain is very good at estimating the obvious and the logical based on your past patterns, experiences, and knowledge.

There is something else going on here with the floor mirror.
See, the merchant has no control over what you’ll be wearing that day or how you’re going to have your hair, or what kind of jewelry will be hanging from your body, all of which can impact how the footwear shows.
The floor mirror avoids distractions or style clash by isolating the shoes visually from the factors not in their control. Yet, it still maintains a strong connection with the wearer due to how our brain functions.
I’m sure some merchants go with the floor mirrors based on budget and space not caring for any of this. But the floor mirrors work just as well or maybe even better than the full body mirror in some cases.

Many aspects of our lives are dependent on imaginations conjured up by the brain without our control. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to function. Most of the time, these imaginations are  good enough to carry on our days, including things like buying shoes. Obviously, there are times when you should exercise explicit control of your thoughts. Luckily, we do have control over when to switch the brain into the conscious and explicit thinking mode.

In recent years, science has uncovered lot of the mysteries of the human brain and the intricacies of its inner-workings. Most of the time, scientific discoveries are applied to enrich our lives. Regrettably, however, they can also be abused. Advertisers and marketers are usually the first to take advantage of this.

As UX professionals, our goal is to create experiences that favor the user.
A good user experience should guide the brain so that it can complete the picture in favor of the goal.  We don’t want the brain to imagine the wrong picture.
When we design, we need to look further than what simply appears on the surface. There is a science behind how elements affect the brain beyond just the aesthetics.

You can learn more about fascinating things that your brain does for you in David Eagleman’s ‘Incognito’.

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