Sunday, October 26, 2008

Emotional Design

The following are a few choice quotes from Donald A. Norman's Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things:

"[We have a] tendency to read emotional responses into anything, animate or not. We are social creatures, biologically prepared to interact with others, and the nature of that interaction depends very much on our ability to understand another's mood. Facial expressions and body language are automatic, indirect results of our affective state, in part because affect is closely tied to behavior. ...We have evolved to interpret even the most subtle of indicators. ...Interpretations of inanimate objects might seem bizarre, but the impulse comes from the same source–our automatic interpretive mechanisms. We interpret everything we experience, much of it in human terms. This is called anthropomorphism, the attribution of human motivations, beliefs, and feelings to animals and inanimate things. The more behavior something exhibits, the more we are apt to do this." (135-136)

This relates well to Lorenz' Innate Releasing Mechanism, an involuntary biological response to an experience.

Stefano Pirovano's Te o Tea Strainer, made by Alessi.

"At first sight, the arms and legs of the figure are simply cute, but when it becomes apparent that the cuteness is also functional, then 'cute' becomes transformed into 'pleasure' and 'fun,' and this, moreover, is long-lasting. ...I spent much of the next hour trying to understand what transforms an impression of shallow cuteness into one of deep, long-lasting pleasure." (106)

"The essence of the surprise was the separation between the two viewings: first the tea strainer alone, then on the teacup. ...What transforms the strainer from 'cute' into 'fun'? Is it surprise? Is it cleverness? Certainly both of those traits play a big role." (106)

Here, Norman relates cuteness with pleasure, which brings me to designer and human factors expert Patrick Jordan's Four Kinds of Pleasure:
  • Physio-pleasure: Sights, sounds, smells, taste, and touch.
  • Socio-pleasure: Derived from interaction/communication with others. Usage.
  • Psycho-pleasure: Deals with one's reactions and psychological state during use or interaction. Resides at behavioral level.
  • Ideo-pleasure: Reflection of the experience/interaction. Appreciation of object. For example, if one displays the object prominently, it gives them ideo-pleasure to show their value judgments to others.

Norman also states that 'fun' and 'pleasurable' are still very elusive concepts.

"What is delightful depends a lot upon the context. The actions of a kitten or human baby may be judged fun and cute, but the very same actions performed by a cat or human adult can be judged irritating or disgusting." (106)

He suggests that more than one type of pleasure is in play at any one time. Visual cues may be what initially attracts you to a kitten, but the socio-pleasure you get from interaction with the kitten or the mental high you get from playing with the kitten (the psycho-pleasure) are what forge the bond between you and the animal.

No comments: