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The dark side of enjoyment Using negative emotions to design for rich user experiences

Steven Fokkinga , Pieter Desmet , Jettie Hoonhout

This paper discusses the possibility of using negative emotions as a means for generating rich product experiences. The approach is based on the proposition that negative emotions can be enjoyable because of the ?enriching benefits? they bring to experiences. Psychological viewpoints on emotion are used to explain (1) why people sometimes seek to experience negative emotions and (2) what the conditions are that have to be met in order for negative emotions to be experienced as enjoyable. Four types of enriching benefits are distinguished: negative emotions empower for action, signify intriguing boundaries, intensify achievement, and enable contemplation. Protective frame theory from clinical psychology is used to explain that in order to enjoy these benefits, people need to be ?shielded? from the unpleasant elements of negative emotion by the use of a protective frame. On the basis of these mechanisms, ten different interaction qualities are introduced, which designers can use to generate rich user experiences.


Design for emotion, Design methodology, Emotion theory