Emotions and Design

Postby stweedd1 » Sun Jul 04, 2010 2:12 pm

Hi there

I'm a postgrad research student in Interaction Design. I'm writing my masters dissertation on Emotions and Design and why is it needed.

I'm interested not only on what designers think of this but psychologists views on it as well. If you don't mind i have a few questions i'd like to ask. any responses are appreciated

Thanks

Questions

Firstly, why has emotional design become an important part of design recently? Why do we need to have an emotional response to everyday objects?

Secondly, where do you think emotions come into the design process? For example is it something that is initially designed into the object or part of it's marketing or something that the user reflects on themselves?

Due to mass customization, how do peoples relationships with these objects change compared to objects that have been mass produced?

And lastly, how much do people have an emotional attachment (if any) with digital media?
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#1

Postby satanstoystore » Mon Jul 05, 2010 9:00 am

I'm not a psychologist but I mess around with plenty of brains.

Firstly, why has emotional design become an important part of design recently?
Competition, perhaps lack of fulfillment. Emotional design determines the depth of fulfillment for a consumer.

Why do we need to have an emotional response to everyday objects?
Emotions enrich our lives.

Secondly, where do you think emotions come into the design process? For example is it something that is initially designed into the object or part of it's marketing or something that the user reflects on themselves?
It's both but the possible depth of this reflection should begin at the design process.

Due to mass customization, how do peoples relationships with these objects change compared to objects that have been mass produced?
It really depends on the person.

And lastly, how much do people have an emotional attachment (if any) with digital media?
Tey can have a strong attachment. For example if you watch anime fansubs* you may notice at the end of each anime ther are often credits to sponsors like "square enix". It's just simple text on a solid background. But if you forget it you have to replace it with something. That something has to be as important or at least funny. And if you ask who square enix is you could possibly get hurt.

So many of these fans have an emotional attachment, even if they arent aware of it, to a 2 second logo flash.

any neurons that fire together wire together. So if digital medias got a neuron, and you can elicit an emotion at the same time- then you've created an emotional relationship there.

* fansubs are animes whose subtitles are translated by fans (for free) and often distributed on teh interweb.
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#2

Postby stweedd1 » Mon Jul 05, 2010 6:18 pm

When you say lack of fulfillment, do you mean that the object does not fulfill the users needs?


Will check out anime fansubs. How would you compare the emotional attachment with anime fansubs to physical objects?
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#3

Postby satanstoystore » Mon Jul 05, 2010 8:56 pm

"When you say lack of fulfillment, do you mean that the object does not fulfill the users needs?"

no I mean emotional fulfillment. How one interacts with the product is really important. Sometimes design changes are needed for an emotional (also perceptual) response to enhance their experience.

Here's an example about placebo/nocebo. Placebo simply means a subject receives a positive response from something that should have no affect. Nocebo loosely means they have less than the desired outcome, like a reverse placebo. Here's an example- red/orange (brightly colored) sleeping pills have less of an effect than blueish colored sleeping pills. same pill but different responses, based on color. small article on it: http://www.mindhacks.com/blog/2006/10/r ... _blue.html

you can find similar results regarding packaging. Better packaging raises ones perceptual value of the product.

Will check out anime fansubs. How would you compare the emotional attachment with anime fansubs to physical objects?

the funny thing is the ad is only maybe 1-2 seconds at the end of an anime. But if you mess it up, like cut it off mid-sentence, or skip them all together, the overall experience isn't as fulfilling.

credit cards are tangible but also digital. When you rate the satisfaction or overall feeling of holding real $$ versus a credit card, cash wins. Credit cards often have a negative feeling attached to them. Probably one reason why dee hock of visa didn't really want people to think about using visa while they were using visa.

If you go into a Hot Topic you'll find a lot of them carrying t-shirts with internet fads printed on them. What they're pushing is textiles with ink. But to get it out the door they have to make it interesting. So they will put characters on them. here's one-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5im0Ssyyus

http://search.hottopic.com/search?p=KK& ... 0Tees&rk=1

they sell b/c the kids have an attachment to those characters. Not sure if that's a proper example of digital media attachment. Maybe cell phone ringtones? But then that's all they are selling is the attachment.[/i]
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#4

Postby stweedd1 » Tue Jul 06, 2010 10:26 am

your example of credit cards is interesting. Do you think we then have attachments with the physical object that allows us access to the digital, or purely the digital service?

I understand about having an attachment to the characters but what about other digital services like social networking? or even digital media - files etc we store on our laptops etc?
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#5

Postby satanstoystore » Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:33 am

"Do you think we then have attachments with the physical object that allows us access to the digital, or purely the digital service?"

I would say the card is the gateway to their purchase. Until they are extremely in debt. All of our digital media gets translated to a physical sense. For instance back in the day when I had to use dial-up service I made a happy attachment to the sound of my modem negotiating with the dial-up service modem. So, it's the digital transfer that I need/want, but the sound is what I created an attachment to. If I heard a busy signal I was not happy.

"what about other digital services like social networking?"
Maybe "You Got Mail" is a good example. When email, especially dating service email, was new- "You got mail" generally created a happy feeling.

"or even digital media - files etc we store on our laptops etc?"
I think how the files are presented to us makes a difference. In Dos the dostree file program was boring. Windows 3.11 was cluttered. current windows, and start bar, have a better layout/access. Mac has a cool rolodex style application manager. Android has a cool customizable ring application dock. It looks like a ring, you tap it, the ring expands into a circle of applications you can choose from. So how we access these files is important. When I switched phones with a windows platform I really missed my customizable Android platform.
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#6

Postby stweedd1 » Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:09 am

So the interface for the android phone made you happier than the windows phone?

I think what's interesting about that is how by customizing systems or objects people can become more attached to them. What do you think?
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#7

Postby satanstoystore » Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:22 pm

very true. I vaguely remember the same thing happening with the change from windows 3.1 to win95. Alot of people got the chance to customize their desktop/workspace and windows themes exploded into existence on the internet.
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#8

Postby stweedd1 » Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:39 pm

Interesting.

I've been thinking a lot recently on negative emotions in design. As in design that plays with emotions such as envy, guilt etc.

It seems to be glossed over quite a bit in design terms and i was wondering what psychologists think of objects and relationships with objects that make people feel guilt?
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#9

Postby satanstoystore » Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:57 pm

My understanding of emotional or unconscious responses to objects come from NLP anchoring. NLP uses examples of Pavlov's and Dr. Twitmeyer's observations.

pavlov would ring a bell or tone something, then feed dogs. Eventually the dogs salivate at the sound.

Twitmeyer noticed something interesting during a pediatric patellar reflex test. You tap a child on the knee with a pattellar rubber hammer and the knee reflexively jerks the leg out. Anyhow, on the second or third dr. visit the child will reflexively jerk their leg out at the presentation of the hammer- before it strikes the knee.

what does this mean? It means our reaction is integrated in our nervous system on a reflex level to sound and visual stimulii. We have responses to sounds, events, objects before we are consciously aware.

In most design I think they go for a general feeling. Like cutco knives have a handle that is optimal for the human hand. It feels "natural" and comfortable, in part b/c it's designed to the actual shape of the hand.

But when it comes to something specific like guilt or shame, those emotions are usually attached by the user. Or someone who knows anchoring. I've attached feelings of "wonder" to a tap on a desk; feelings of orgasm to candy (she liked that); feelings of wrong/bad to a seat and a stack of resumes (good to know when you need a job)...
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#10

Postby stweedd1 » Wed Jul 14, 2010 10:59 am

If these emotions are attached by the user then were do aesthetics and design come into it? Over time are emotions attached to the object rather than an instant reaction to it?

When you say feeling do you mean the physical feeling when we touch an object?

I understand that we react to things without being consciously aware of it.
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#11

Postby satanstoystore » Wed Jul 14, 2010 10:12 pm

"If these emotions are attached by the user then were do aesthetics and design come into it?"

I would say that aesthetics and design facilitate their attachment of emotions. Architecture for living/working, which is different than functional or simply for shelter, often incorporates aesthetics and emotional friendly design. I think I.M. Pei is a great example of an architect who can evoke feelings from people who live/work in his structures.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I._M._Pei
great example of the inside of a bank lobby:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bank_ ... _Lobby.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nga_fg04.jpg

"Over time are emotions attached to the object rather than an instant reaction to it?"
Not necessarily. A carnival plush toy might have emotions instantly attached to them, whereas a spoon at home may not ever have any emotions attached to them.

"When you say feeling do you mean the physical feeling when we touch an object? "
No we don't have to touch an object to feel a feeling attached to it. We can see it or hear it, taste it, or sometimes be reminded of it. Sometimes smell it.

in my examples of manually attaching feelings, they were all different. The subject felt a sense of "wonder" to the sound of tapping on her desk. Another subject felt a sense of 'blissful relaxing satisfaction' to the taste of her candy. The other subject got a feeling of wrong/bad (inappropriate) when looking at a seat (that I knew most applicants would sit in) and by looking at a stack of their resumes.
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#12

Postby stweedd1 » Tue Aug 03, 2010 5:35 pm

"No we don't have to touch an object to feel a feeling attached to it. We can see it or hear it, taste it, or sometimes be reminded of it. Sometimes smell it. "

so would you argue that other senses have an involvement in our understanding and appreciation and emotional response to objects?


in your manual examples you mention you feel guilty about the resumes. Is this an experience you've had before that perhaps the first time was manually attached, or is it something that has happened over time?
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#13

Postby satanstoystore » Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:07 pm

Our emotional responses could be attached to any snese stimulus.

I didn't feel guilty about resumes.I instructed the interviewer to feel a negative emotion when looking at and handling the stack of resumes that were my competitors. Its trickery/manipulation. It increases my chances of getting hired. It has worked every time I choose to do it. But I also add other techniques.
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#14

Postby SIY2 » Wed Aug 04, 2010 1:23 pm

Companies have to consider emotional response because it's a way of competing for market share.

I think you can get attached to an object because you associate it with a time, place or person that is important to you. That will be unique to the individual. For example I have some crockery that is special because it was my grandmother's - it is nicely designed but if it was a different design it wouldn't matter, I would feel the same about it. It would be hard for a designer to tap into that because it is so unique.

But someone can be encouraged to make a choice between items because some element of the design of one item makes an emotional appeal to them. For example, bakeware. Some people buy premium brands that look old-fashioned in design (enamelled spots/roses) because they want to feel like they are doing some traditional thing in baking (once a year!), even though their grandparents may have used and quickly worn out a utilitarian item and not thought of it as anything other than a necessity. This goes in cycles - in the 60s and 70s everything had to be "new" and then in the 80s and 90s people had to buy back more traditional designs. Look at all the houses where panelled doors were replaced in the 70s then restored in the 90s. This was a way of staving off anxiety and the fear of growing old, or appearing old. Whole brands can be attached to emotions - Ralph Lauren or Laura Ashley furniture.

The emotional hooks can be designed in, or they can be added later via packaging - the latter usually seems a bit fake as you discard the emotional attributes when you unwrap.

This is all elevated to a high art with cars - people choose cars as a way of saying something about themselves, like "I am rugged", "I am sporty", "I am eco-conscious". They feel reassured about who they are by making a choice that communicates that. They can even be communicating "I don't care" by driving a wreck or something actually harmful to the environment. Or they simply aspire by purchasing something that is really beyond their current means and eat of paper plates when no one sees them - the emotion is hope!

There's a whole industry built around premium products "because you're worth it. And if people can't be motivated to choose an item out of guilt, there wouldn't be so many Fairtrade and Recycled badges on products.....

I resent it all, but I'm sure I'm affected. I hope I choose products on the basis of utility and beauty (in my eyes) and I don't treat things as ephemeral.

I don't think it's easy to be attracted to digital media in the same way, there is a built-in obsolescence for brands on the web since the sites slow down and look clunky if not refreshed. Some brands persist - e.g. the BBC website because that is part of their trusted brand.
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