Positive emotions in human-product interactions

Jay Yoon
PhD project
November 2011 - November 2015
Supervisory team: Pieter Desmet (promotor) and Anna Pohlmeyer (daily supervisor)
Contact: Jay Yoon | j.yoon[at]tudelft.nl | 0031(0)152783366

Positive emotions, like joy, contentment, love, interest, amusement, and pride, improve individual and collective functioning, psychological well-being and physical health (Fredrickson, 2003). These emotions are evoked by different eliciting conditions, and they also differ in how they influence our behavior (Roseman & Smith, 2001). It can be advantageous for designers to understand how distinct positive emotions are elicited and how these emotions affect usage behavior. This research aims to generate knowledge on the role of positive emotions in human-product interactions.

Research goal
This research investigates how positive emotions can contribute to enriching product experiences by unveiling their functions and manifestations in human-product interactions, and how they can be deliberately designed. Therefore, the main research question is ‘how different positive emotions affect human-product interactions?’ This main research question entails four consecutive research questions. 1) How different positive emotions are manifested in human-product interactions? 2) What principles underlie the elicitation of positive emotions experienced in human-product interactions? 3) How can a product be designed to evoke specific positive emotions? 4) What are the effects of positive emotions in human-product interactions?

Research impact
There is overwhelming evidence that people who regularly experience positive emotions show better functioning and experience better life outcomes, including physical and mental health, successful coping, and longevity (for a review, see Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005). In fact, the daily experienced pleasant and unpleasant emotions are the main components of subjective well-being (Diener, Suh, Lucas, & Smith, 1999). It is the responsibly of design researchers to generate knowledge that enables designers to formulate effective strategies to take positive action in contributing to the well-being of the people that use their products. Hence, understanding emotions in human-product interaction does not only help designers in their attempts to deliberately design for meaningful product/user relationships, but ultimately also to design products that contribute to a healthy society.

Research agenda
Four research questions determine the general project stages, in which the research findings from each research question are associated with the progress of the project. In the first stage, manifestations of 25 positive emotions experienced in human-product interactions are explored. Two positive emotions are selected to be further studied based on behavioral impacts, appraisal structures, and relevance for product design. In the second stage, theoretical proposition on the eliciting conditions of two selected positive emotions are formulated through in-depth literature review. The propositions are refined with a complementing exploratory study that enables to observe how two selected positive emotions are elicited while interacting with consumer products. Stage 3 aims to get an understanding of what qualities of a product are related to elicitation of two selected positive emotions, and how the qualities can be expressed in design process. This stage produces a set of strategies for designing interactions that evoke two selected positive emotions. Stage 4 investigates detailed effects of two selected positive emotions in human-product interactions with various types of stimuli. Stage 5 aims to check if the predicted effects of two selected positive emotions can be caused by interactions with a product. For this, interactive prototypes that can evoke two selected positive emotions are developed, and are tested to get insights into the roles of positive emotions in human-product interactions.

Yoon J, Desmet P.M.A., van der Helm, A. (2011). Design for interest: exploratory study on a distinct positive emotion in human-product interaction. Submitted to International Journal of Design.

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