As a student of Psychology and Marketing, one of my key interests has been the relationship between motivation and behavior, as in what motivates an individual to react and/or behave in a certain way in a given situation or to a stimulus. You know when you decide to reach for that cup of coffee on the table? While you may decide to actually grab it, someone else in the same situation may decide not to because of various reasons, say their mind is preoccupied with something else, or even if they desire a sip, they may be feeling lazy. See, we would never be able to fully figure others out unless communication took place. This difference in behavior is due to our background and trait that vary widely and naturally- therefore, once we decide to embrace our differences, the world may indeed be a peaceful place.
The reason why I begin this post with this seemingly random Psychology mumbo jumbo is because of the inspiration behind pushBUTTON’s new collection- we all know that designer Park Seung Gun is known for eccentric, bold style that’s loved by celebrities on both domestic and global levels; trendy and experimental, Park seeks to “push buttons” (both right and wrong) while keeping wearability in mind. Perhaps it was his last collection that somewhat hindered myself from having a higher expectation (in terms of Park’s scope of interest for inspiration); I mean, his last collection was about Sailor Moon, after all- this lack of anticipation had some reasonable basis, yeah? (This is not to say that I expected any less of the collection itself- note that I’m literally obsessed with his stuff.)
Well, let’s get back to psychology now- totally random, or maybe not- because guess what, surprisingly or not, psychology has a lot to do with what you wear. Think about it- when you put on that shirt and pants in the morning, it involves a thought process- whether as a part of a daily ritual or out of responsibility, you make a decision to put on something, and make another decision to choose which garment to wear. Depending on your mood and physical state, you may decide to go with something colorful, fancy, or dark and monotone. And the things you put on in the morning, often affects your emotion and even your interaction with others throughout the day, because depending on what you wear, you portray a different appearance, which can sometimes make you look friendlier than usual, or the opposite.
So now, you must be wondering why all this psychology talk when we’ve got this exciting, awesome collection from one of the hottest designers in Korea. Well, Park decided that it would be fun to design around rather a “complicated” idea for this season, which is a psychological concept coined by the Dutch Ethologist (one who studies animal behavior) and Ornithologist (one who studies birds), Nikolaas Tinbergen: Supernormal Stimuli. I don’t intend on making this an academic article or a thesis so let me make it short- so basically, Tinbergen’s claim is that humans (and animals) are wired in such a way that we are naturally more attracted to artificial versions of objects to elicit a stronger response than the original objects from which the artificial versions came from. In short, he thinks we prefer artificially manipulated things rather than the things in natural, original state, i.e. French fries vs. Fresh potatoes, Facebook vs. Socializing with real people, Puppy dolls with unrealistically huge eyes vs. Real live puppy
As much as it sounds crazy and ridiculous, this idea offers some important implications for everyday life as it may suggest possible causes for addictive behaviors- if we can somehow alter the way we respond to Supernormal Stimuli, one should have a better control over his/her physical responses to such, hence making the unhealthy behavior more manageable. As with everything else though, it begins with being aware of the problem and having the desire to alleviate the situation.
If anything, consider it like being on a diet- when done in moderation, anything becomes much more manageable. If you know that you are more prone to submitting to Supernormal Stimuli, send signals to your brain as soon as you come across the stimulus so that you are better prepared. Well, what you are about to see from pushBUTTON is such… so brace yourselves. This is a warning.
Photos by Justin Shin, fashion photographer Seoul Korea