Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Designing for Emotions - arguments for an emphasis on affect in design
Martin Pichlmair
2nd Author
3rd Author
Dr. techn. (Informatics)
Number of Pages
Vienna University of Technology
Thesis Supervisor
Peter Purgathofer
Supervisor e-mail
purg AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Informatics / HCI, Art and Design
Languages Familiar to Author
German, English
URL where full thesis can be found
emotions, perception and representation, design theory, interactive cognition, metaphors, interactive art, creativity
Abstract: 200-500 words
Our everyday life is full of emotional experiences. We constantly act - either conscious or uncoscious - on base of emotions. Until now, research in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) did not reflect the influence of emotions. Yet numer- ous other scientific fields researched this theme in recent years. The goal of this dissertation is to relate the findings in these fields to those in Human Computer Interaction in order to present a theroretical framework for the practical im- plementation of new forms of interaction that acknowledge the importance of emotional involvement. Hereby I strive for presenting the available theories in their complexity rather than simplifying them. I do not cover the strong emotions like love, hatred and fear but rather concentrate on weak emotions such as the feelings of liking something, immersion and fun. This dissertation is organised into several sections that cover central aspects of the topic. The text is accompanied by several examples from art, architec- ture, and my own artistic practice. Art has always nourished an emotional link between the audience and the art piece. Therefore design and thus interaction de- sign can learn a lot from art in this regard. Especially in media art some instru- ments have been developed over the last years that foster the playful interaction with serious content. Human activity is often analysed in terms of problem solving behaviour. I present different theories from psychology and cognitive science on this issue. An impor- tant point for the development of emotions is the relation between the expected and the actual outcome of an activity. The Theory of Inquiry by John Dewey acknowledges this fundamental fact and will thus be followed throughout this dissertation. His theory explains human activity as interactive process. In order to provide a background for the extension of this theory into interactivity, I ex- amine different modalities of perception. Even on this level of cognition, humans tend to be more than receivers in the communication with their surroundings - they rather inquire their environment interactively. Emotions shape this inquiry and are shaped by it. In order to transform the insights of the analysis of problem solving behaviour into practical knowledge, scientific disciplines are examined that already have ac- knowledged the interrelations between emotions and cognition. Scores of media theorists commented the interactive aspects of communication. Other disciplines of science that embrace emotions are narratology and ludology. Narratology is closely related to the concept of metaphors and treats problem solving as a narra- tive process. Ludology focuses on games as problems of diverse characteristics. Both disciplines are examined on their applicability on user interface design. The result of this examination is that the interface should rather be an instrument - in the sense of musical instruments - than a tool. The prime goal should be that it is learnable rather than trivial. In the last chapters, possibilities are described to translate the theoretical find- ings into practical design projects using design instruments. Rather than develop- ing yet another generic design method, I focus on outlining design instruments. Especially in the case of projects that should affect the emotional side of the user design has to abandon strict methods. Instead, design has to be seen as an open and holistic process. This also calls for a stronger involvement of the end-user in the design process.