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A Basic Typology of Product Emotions

Pieter Desmet

The fact that we are capable of distinguishing many distinct emotions is illustrated by the vast number of emotion-denoting words that exists in most human languages. In the English language, for example, researchers have reported lists of up to 400 words to cover the full range of human emotions. Given this abundance, most emotion researchers rely on typologies of emotions to structure their studies. Although this approach seems applicable to studies of design and emotion, the available typologies may be too general for design research. Therefore, this paper reports the development of a typology of product emotions, that is, emotions likely to be elicited (or often elicited) by consumer products. For this development, a multistage method was used. The starting point was an extensive set of 374 emotions that was reduced to a manageable set of 25 emotions in a series of successive steps. The application value of the set is discussed in relation to the often-applied basic emotion typologies. It was found that although most basic emotions are not regularly evoked by products, particular derivatives of most basic emotions can be found in the typology of product emotions. In addition, it was found that the typology includes some emotions that cannot be derived from the basic emotions. The implications of these findings for design and emotion research are discussed, and further research directions are indicated.

typology, emotion, basic emotions, emotion types