Early Adopters: Cognitive or Affective?

About a decade ago, a clothing store which used the slogan, “An educated consumer is our best customer,” filed for bankruptcy.  An “off-price” retailer, Syms began in 1958, incorporated in 1983, and, in November of 2011, it filed for bankruptcy and all stores were closed at the end of that year.  The Sy Syms Foundation, however, still lives on, and has supported educational initiatives as well public broadcasting in an era of declining public funding.

For those of you not familiar with the pricing process in place across the chain, prices on merchandise were lowered every week.  Therefore, the decision to buy was a cognitive one.  You may like the dress or suit, but if you didn’t buy it right then, you knew you could come back next week to buy it for a lower price…if it was there the next week.  If you went back, and it was, then you needed to make the decision regarding whether you’d want to buy it then…or wait another week when it would have an even lower price.  This practice encouraged repeat visits, and, chances are that while you’re shopping, you may find something else that you were looking for.  That’s why “educated consumers” were their “best” customers.  It took the buying process from the “affective” domain and moved it to the “cognitive” domain.

To an educator, the process makes all the sense in the world.  That’s because it’s a cognitive process.  Even the phrase “makes all the sense in the world” has its basis in cognition.

But the world changes.

In 2010, you wouldn’t need to go back to the store to find the best price.  You could look for it on that new device you just bought to access the Internet.  What can you do with an iPad (as those who reviewed it wondered what need there was for it)?  Buy stuff, and have it shipped to your house.

In 1994, a young man named Jeff Bezos had this idea to sell items directly to the consumer through the Internet, so he left the company he worked for on Wall Street, and moved to Seattle (maybe he liked the coffee there).  It was originally called “Cadabra,” perhaps because of the magic of the Internet.  He changed it a year later because someone misheard that name as “cadaver.”

So what to call it?  He decided on “Amazon” because the Amazon was an exotic place, running through the South American rainforest, which held all kinds of living species of plants and animals.  The Amazon river was also the longest river in the world, and his vision was for his company to be the largest in the world.

Now how to brand it.  Notice the line underneath the word in the logo.  It connects the “A” to the “Z” and looks like a smile, so that you can be happy about the values on everything from A to Z that you’ll find there.

That’s a lesson in branding.  Note how the cognitive aspects of the logo make logical sense.  Even the word “logo” means “word.”  However, it’s the creative way that they’re utilized to connect the logical with the affective domain.  It’s a cognitive representation of the intended affective response.

Now let’s go back to that iPad for a moment.  It’s kind of hard to believe that it’s only been available for about twelve years.  Here’s what was said about it when it debuted:

“Consumers seem genuinely baffled by why they might need it” – BUSINESS WEEK

“Insanely great it is not” – MARKETWATCH

“My god, I am underwhelmed” – GIZMODO

And yet, fanatics continued to be fascinated by it, developers keep creating new applications for it, and schools continue to buy it as their device of choice to deliver curriculum and foster learning excitement in students.

And there’s the rub.  Excitement is affective.  Foster excitement in the affective domain, and learning will follow in the cognitive domain.

Speaking of everything changing, for a review of what changed in Bloom’s Taxonomy, as well as the taxonomies in the affective and psychomotor domains, visit http://thesecondprinciple.com/instructional-design/threedomainsoflearning/.  It’s an excellent resource for creativity, instructional design and brain-based research.