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Emotion as a Cognitive Artifact and the Design Implications for Products That are Perceived As Pleasurable

Frank Spillers

Product design that provides aesthetic appeal, pleasure and satisfaction can greatly influence the success of a product. Traditional cognitive approaches to product usability have tended to underestimate or fragment emotion from an understanding of the user experience. Affect, which is inexplicable linked to attitudes, expectations and motivations, plays a significant role in the cognition of product interaction, and therefore can be usefully treated as a design aid. Emotion influences and mediates specific aspects of interaction before, during and after the use of a product. These affective states regularly impact how a user manipulates and explores a user interface in order to support a desired cognitive state.

To better understand the specific qualities of user experience impacting desirability and pleasureability, it is necessary to understand how artifacts trigger and mediate affect and how these processes aid user cognition during interaction. The implications for design are that emotion acts as a critical component of artifact sensemaking and determines how artifacts are interpreted (Rafaeli and Vilnai-Yavetz, 2003). Designers that understand how cognitive artifacts interchange with affective artifacts will be better able to support actual product use and perceived pleasure.


Emotion and cognition, affect, Pleasure, interaction design, Kansei engineering, artifacts, cognitive artifacts, affective artifacts