You may have seen those floor mirrors at shoe stores that’s just big enough to show the shoes and few inches above it. In the past, I thought these were pretty silly and argued that people shouldn’t be making purchase decisions based on what they see in this type of mirror.
Think about it. It doesn’t matter who is standing in front of the mirror. You don’t see who is wearing those shoes. You don’t even get to see the rest of your outfit.
But I was wrong. This type of floor mirror is actually a very clever sales tool. (Whether by intent or by happy accident, I’m not sure.)
These mirrors just as well may have evolved out of budget or space concerns and nothing else. However, there is a very complex and mysterious force working behind these things. Modern brain sciences and psychology can help explain what those are.
See, if you’re the one who’s standing in front of the mirror, your brain processes the image one way. If it’s anyone else, the brain will process it some other way. Even if that someone else was wearing the same outfit and the same pair of shoes and the image reflected in the mirror is practically identical.
Yes, the same pair of shoes will look and feel different depending on who’s standing there. Even when you can’t see who is standing there.
So, what is really happening here? It turns out, what your brain sees is not always the same as what you see with your eyes. What we believe as “seeing” is actually an image conjured up by the brain triggered by the input (from our eyes). And what occurs majority of the time is, even when 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 when 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 adjusts the picture accordingly once it’s aware that someone else is standing 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’.