Wendy Gordon notes that the power of art — and good advertising — is that it challenges us, the viewer, to get involved. She’s been looking into a new field of study, neuroaesthetics, which explores the neural processes underlying our appreciation of beautiful objects and artwork. The question is: will it help creative teams devise better ads; or give clients the confidence to risk daring concepts?

Tony Laverty is struck by how the mind processes the world and life experiences. In Depth’s last issue highlighted metaphors as a way for qualitative researchers to make the abstract more concrete. Here, Tony argues, we should go further, and describes the ‘scaffolding’ required to rethink research, putting the human at the centre instead of the product or service while becoming more creative about context and sources of inspiration.

Jim Mott has found to his cost that a smile isn’t always welcome. On a project in Kuala Lumpur he took a photojournalist approach to charting which smiles appear where, in what context, and the type of messages they were being used to convey. The hundreds of smiles captured revealed the difference that gender and age make. For brand owners seeking an inoffensive expression to use in their advertising, the advice is to take great care.