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Fels, D., Blackler, A., Niedderer, K., 2021.

Does bouncy equal happy? Comparing user's interpretations of emotions conveyed by one designed moving object based on the soma-semiotic framework.

Output Type:Journal article
Publication:Appl Ergon
Publisher:Elsevier BV
Pagination:pp. 103463-103463

When designing objects, designers attempt to communicate the purpose and meaning of that object to users using various factors such as visual appearance (aesthetic), practical interaction elements (product semantics) and meanings beyond the practical product interaction (semiotics). This study sought to confirm the previous deductively-developed soma-semiotic framework, whose purpose was to understand and ultimately predict the emotional impact of different design elements on users, using one specifically designed object, Fruit Bowl (FB). The purpose of the study reported in this paper was to compare the theoretically derived emotional responses to FB from the soma-semiotic framework with empirically derived data from users in order to improve the framework. Sixty participants evaluated the meaning and emotion conveyed by FB as well as self-reported their own experienced emotions under two scenarios. The framework predicted that FB would convey joy in a first scenario, and amusement in a second scenario based on different movements. Using a weighted vector analysis based on Russell's two-dimensional Circumplex of emotions, users identified that the overall emotion of the first scenario to be similar to the predicted emotion. This was attributed mostly to the bouncy movement of the bowl and its visual aesthetic. However, in the second scenario the overall rating was calm/impressed; rather than humour. The abstract design did not favour users making the same associations as the designer. We recommend that the soma-semiotic framework be revised to include aesthetic, in addition to semiotic and semantic, elements as determinants of user interpretations and reactions to designed objects.