Lens: Type: Core Level

A person’s emotional state.

Photo: helena_wlt
group of men and women smiling

A person’s emotional state can directly affect the way they interact with others and with design. A person who is emotionally frustrated by managing a toddler throwing a tantrum will likely have a hard time operating a complex screen-based user interface that requires attention to run. Mood affects perception. A person in a bad mood may feel that cereal boxes are harder to open, the traffic driving to work is unbearable, and office doors jam more often than usual.

Sometimes, the purpose of a design outcome is to facilitate a specific mood. For example, a place for spiritual worship is often designed to create a sense of awe and quiet meditation. These spaces are designed to alter a person’s initial mood, which could be weariness or feeling overworked. When designers consider people’s initial moods, they can are effectively design products, services, and systems to directly address these emotional states. In this example, experience design teams could create design objects that would help people transition into a different mood. In this case, the design could take the form of lighting design to give the room a dramatic sense of mystery, murals that depict ancient imagery, and sound design to create a din of ethereal sounds that feel other-worldly.

Researching Mood

Researching mood can reveal people’s emotional states when they use products, services, and systems. Because a person’s mood can override rational thought and often frames their perceptions, researching mood helps designers know ways to create design outcomes that best function within these experience design scenes. This research can also help designers know what mood people prefer to be in when completing particular activities.

Questions to Ask About Mood

  • What is the optimal emotional state for the activity?
  • What sensory-rich objects and messaging can facilitate desired emotions?

Look for These When Researching Mood

  • Words people express about their mood
  • Body language and gestures


References and sources that support the inclusion of this Aspects of Experiences for Design component.


Desmet, P. M. A. (2002). Designing Emotions. Doctoral Thesis, Delft University, Delft.

Desmet, P. M. A. (2003). Measuring Emotion: Development And Application Of An Instrument To Measure Emotional Responses To Products. In M. A. Blythe, K. Overbeeke, A. F. Monk, & P. C. Wright (Eds.), Funology: from usability to enjoyment.

Desmet, P. M. A. (2012). Faces of Product Pleasure: 25 Positive Emotions in Human-Product Interactions. International Journal of Design, 6(2), 1-29.

Fokkinga, S. F., & Desmet, P. M. A. (2014, October 6-10). Run for your life! Using emotion theory in designing for concrete product interactions. Proceedings from Colors of Care: The 9th International Conference on Design & Emotion, Ediciones Uniandes, Bogotá.

Forlizzi, J., & Ford, S. (2000, August 17-19). The building blocks of experience: an early framework for interaction designers. Proceedings from 3rd conference on Designing interactive systems: processes, practices, methods, and techniques (DIS ‘00), New York.

Hassenzahl, M., Eckoldt, K., Diefenbach, S., Laschke, M., Lenz, E., & Kim, J. (2013). Designing moments of meaning and pleasure. Experience design and happiness. International Journal of Design, 7(3).

JungKyoon, Y., Pohlmeyer, A. E., & Desmet, P. M. A. (2016). When ‘Feeling Good’ is not Good Enough: Seven Key Opportunities for Emotional Granularity in Product Development. International Journal of Design, 10(3), 1-15.


Heidegger, M. (1962). Being and time. London: SCM Press.

Social Sciences

Ahmad, S. N. (2016). The Role of Social Facilitation Theory on Consumer Decision Making: A Conceptual Framework. American Journal of Management, 16(2).

Carstensen, L. L., Isaacowitz, D. M., & Charles, S. T. (1999). Taking time seriously: A theory of socioemotional selectivity. American Psychologist, 54(3), 165-181. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.54.3.165

Carver, C. S., Sutton, S. K., & Scheier, M. F. (2000). Action, Emotion, and Personality: Emerging Conceptual Integration. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26(6), 741-751. doi:10.1177/0146167200268008

Danner, D. D., Snowdon, D. A., & Friesen, W. V. (2001). Positive emotions in early life and longevity: Findings from the nun study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80(5), 804-813. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.80.5.804

Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56(3), 218-226. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.56.3.218

Frijda, N. H. (1988). The laws of emotion. American Psychologist, 43(5), 349-358. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.43.5.349

Gray, K. (2017). How to Map Theory: Reliable Methods Are Fruitless Without Rigorous Theory. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12(5), 731-741.

Higgins, E. T. (1997). Beyond pleasure and pain. American Psychologist, 52(12), 1280-1300. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.52.12.1280

Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (2000). Experienced Utility and objective happiness: A moment-based approach. In Choices, values, and frames (pp. 673-692). New York: Cambridge University Press and the Russell Sage Foundation.

Keltner, D., & Haidt, J. (1999). Social functions of emotions at four levels of analysis. Cognition and Emotion, 13(5), 505-521. doi:Article

Keltner, D., & Gross, J. J. (1999). Functional Accounts of Emotions. Cognition & Emotion, 13(5), 467-480.

Keltner, D., & Haidt, J. (1999). Social Functions of Emotions at Four Levels of Analysis. Cognition & Emotion, 13(5), 505-521.

Mauss, I. B., Bunge, S. A., & Gross, J. J. (2007). Automatic Emotion Regulation. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 1, 146-167. doi:10.1111/j.1751-9004.2007.00005.x

McDonagh, D., Hekkert, P., Van Erp, J., & Gyi, D. (Eds.). (2004). Design and emotion: the experience of everyday things. London and New York: Taylor & Francis.

Richins, M. L. (1987). Media, materialism, and human happiness. Advances in Consumer Research, 14(1), 352-356.

Rudd, M., Vohs, K. D., & Aaker, J. (2012). Awe Expands People’s Perception of Time, Alters Decision Making, and Enhances Well-Being. Psychological Science, 23(10), 1130-1136. doi:10.1177/0956797612438731

doi: 10.1177/0956797612438731

Russell, J. A. (1980). Circumplex model of affect. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 39, 1161-1178.

Sheldon, K. M., Elliot, A. J., Kim, Y., & Kasser, T. (2001). What is satisfying about satisfying events? Testing 10 candidate psychological needs. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 80(2), 325-339.

Stangor, C. (2014). Principles of Social Psychology (1st International Edition ed.). B.C. Open Textbook Project.

Van Boven, L., & Gilovich, T. (2003). To Do or to Have? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85(6), 1193-1202. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.85.6.1193

Van Boven, L. (2005). Experientialism, Materialism, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 132-142. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.9.2.132