Academic journal article International Journal of Design

I Knew I Shouldn't, Yet I Did It Again! Emotion-Driven Design as a Means to Motivate Subjective Well-Being

Academic journal article International Journal of Design

I Knew I Shouldn't, Yet I Did It Again! Emotion-Driven Design as a Means to Motivate Subjective Well-Being

Article excerpt

Introduction

I knew I shouldn't, yet I did it again! Our emotions sometimes seem to play tricks on us: the person who was fined for speeding knew she was behaving irresponsibly but simply could not resist when testing the new sports car. And the person who has to face an upset spouse knew that he should not have purchased these expensive shoes, but some inner voice made him buy them anyway. These and similar situations typically evoke mixed emotions: combinations of both pleasant and unpleasant emotions, such as pleasure and shame, or pride and regret. Emotions sometimes seem to 'make us' behave irresponsibly, jeopardizing our health, safety, and security. We know we should not eat the bag of candy because it will make us feel bad. But we do it anyway (while enjoying the taste), even when realizing that we will pay for it later. In this paper we explore how products can be designed with the intention to resolve these emotional conflicts, contributing to long-term subjective well-being, rather than to short-term pleasures or thrills.

There are several models in the design literature that attempt to explain the role of emotion in product design (Desmet, 2002; Jordan, 1999; Norman, 2004). The model adopted in this paper has been proposed by Desmet and uses appraisal theory as the basis for explaining how products elicit emotions through addressing one's concerns. As it applies to design and emotion, an appraisal is "an automatic assessment of the effect of a product on one's well-being" (Demir, Desmet, & Hekkert, 2009, p. 1). For example, if one wants to be successful at work, failing to get a promotion may generate anger or disappointment. Appraisal theory identifies concerns (wanting to be promoted) as reference points in the process of emotion elicitation. Experience of positive or negative emotions towards a given situation depends on whether that situation fulfills or harms one's concern(s) (Frijda, 1986). Different people may experience different emotions in a given situation; however, the process of emotion elicitation, as explained by appraisal theory, is universal.

Design for emotion also provides the means to design for subjective well-being, since the latter benefits from the influence of emotions on one's being. Frijda (2007) argues that emotions can generate long-term goals, when a specific concern obtains a high priority in the hierarchical concern structure of a person. Such concerns are goals with high emotional value: The process of achieving the goal may not be emotional, but the person is still emotionally engaged with the goal. In the above example, working hard for a promotion may not evoke emotions during the process itself, but one continues to do so because receiving or not receiving recognition for hard work will certainly evoke positive or negative emotions. In other words, an appraisal of emotion motivates action for goal achievement fueled by "intention, anticipation, and reflective control" to reach a desired end-state (Frijda, 2007, p. 194). As a result, both design for emotion and design for subjective well-being require translating concerns of target users into novel and emotionally evocative products.

Given the everyday prevalence and significance of conflicting concerns on subjective well-being, the goal of this paper is to introduce the concept of conflicting concerns to the process of emotion-driven design and to demonstrate their translation to design concepts in an example design domain: sustainable eating habits. The first two sections discuss the psychological principles of emotion and motivation, to explain how conflicting concerns arise, why they are important, and how they can be addressed through emotion-driven design. Next, a case study is reported. The study adopted a research through design approach, to (1) identify the relevant concerns in the domain of eating meat versus meat alternatives, and to (2) design with the identified conflicting concerns. As the concept of conflicting concerns is a new approach to designing for emotion and subjective well-being, traditional user research methods, such as interviews and focus groups, were adjusted to identify these concerns in the domain of meat eating. …

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