Academic journal article Visible Language

Emotion in Typographic Design: An Empirical Examination

Academic journal article Visible Language

Emotion in Typographic Design: An Empirical Examination

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

There are virtually no rules to empirically interpret the meaning inherent in typeface designs-people intuitively decipher typefaces (Van Leeuwen, 2005). Forty-two participants examined six alphabets and responded using an online questionnaire to discover

1 whether viewing typefaces produces emotional responses,

2 whether people have the same emotion responses to typefaces and

3 whether certain emotions are predominantly associated with the formative design features of typefaces-classification, terminal shape, character width and weight.

Psychological research about the role of emotion in visual processing was combined with an interactive animated questionnaire methodology (Desmet, 2002), and the resulting data were analyzed in a matched t-Test design (α =.05, 95%). This human-centered empirical approach proved a promising methodology for design research that successfully eliminated problems evidenced in previous object-centered typography studies. Because people reported similar emotion response to the design features, this study suggests that design's underlying features represent a common visual language.

Graphic design plays an important role in helping people to decipher meanings, prioritize information, and judge the personal relevance of communications by injecting emotion into visual messages. However most designers don't understand that what they are really selling is emotion (Karajuluoto, 2008). Designers must begin to go beyond form, function and aesthetics, according to Robinson (2004), to integrate aspects of "emotional awareness." Typography is one area of graphic design that telegraphs the tone and attitude-the emotion-of communication. This study provided evidence about the role of emotion in visual perception of the formal graphic elements that make up typographic forms.

While much is known about how the brain processes components of vision (motion and spatial relationships: Merigan & Maunsell, 1993; color: Zeki, 1973, 1974b, 1977; Merigan & Maunsell, 1993; edges: Zeki, Perry, et al., 2003; form (shapes): Gulyas & Roland, 1994; Gulyas, Heywood, et al., 1994; Grill-Spector, Kushnir, et al., 1998; Merigan & Maunsell, 1993; Marcar, Loenneker, et al., 2004; and patterns: Pinker, 1984), zvirtually nothing is known about how categories of design elements are interpreted through emotion and perception. Or for that matter, whether design elements are processed individually, as basic visual criteria. In order to examine how people interpreted basic elements of design, this study asked people to respond to six different typefaces by indicating the emotion(s) they felt when viewing the typefaces.

This study was a significant departure from the typical methodologies used for design research. For studies inquiring about responses to visual stimuli, Morrison (1986) suggested that the response mechanism should utilize a non-verbal reporting method. A wide variety of methodological approaches and variable descriptions were utilized in previous typography studies, which limited comparison of the studies. For example, most researchers had not accounted for possible interactions between presentation form (word or pictures) and reporting method (reading, writing or interactive selection) resulting in mixed findings. (For a summary of past typographic research see Morrison, 1986; Poffenberger and Franken, 1923; Davis and Smith, 1933; Kastl and Child, 1968; Tannenbaum et al., 1964; Benton, 1979; Wendt, 1968; and Weaver, 1949.)

research questions and design

In order to answer the three research questions of

1 whether viewing specific typefaces produces emotional responses,

2 whether all people have the same emotion responses to typefaces, and

3 whether certain emotions are predominantly associated with the formative design features of typefaces,

an interactive questionnaire was selected. PrEmo(TM) (Desmet, 2002) is a unique scientifically validated, non-verbal, self-report, rich media research tool to measure product emotions and was the protocol chosen to measure emotion in this study. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.