Chapter 6: Emotional Interaction
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The main goals of this chapter are to accomplish the following:
- Explain how our emotions relate to behavior and the user experience.
- Explain what are expressive and annoying interfaces and the effects they can have
- Introduce the area of emotion recognition and how it is used.
- Describe how technologies can be designed to change people’s behavior.
- Provide an overview on how anthropomorphism has been applied in interaction design.
When you receive some bad news, how does it affect you? Do you feel upset, sad, angry, or
annoyed—or all of these? Does it put you in a bad mood for the rest of the day? How might
technology help? Imagine a wearable technology that could detect how you were feeling and
provide a certain kind of information and suggestions geared toward helping to improve
your mood, especially if it detected that you were having a real downer of a day. Would you
find such a device helpful, or would you find it unnerving that a machine was trying to cheer
you up? Designing technology to detect and recognize someone’s emotions automatically
from sensing aspects of their facial expressions, body movements, gestures, and so forth, is a growing area of research often called emotional AI or affective computing. There are many potential applications for using automatic emotion sensing, other than those intended
to cheer someone up, including health, retail, driving, and education. These can be used to
determine if someone is happy, angry, bored, frustrated, and so on, in order to trigger an
appropriate technology intervention, such as making a suggestion to them to stop and reflect
or recommending a particular activity for them to do.
In addition, emotional design is a growing area relating to the design of technology
that can engender desired emotional states, for example, apps that enable people to reflect
on their emotions, moods, and feelings. The focus is on how to design interactive products
to evoke certain kinds of emotional responses in people. It also examines why people
become emotionally attached to certain products (for instance, virtual pets), how social
robots might help reduce loneliness, and how to change human behavior through the use of
In this chapter, we include emotional design and affective computing using the broader
term, emotional interaction, to cover both aspects. We begin by explaining what emotions
are and how they shape behavior and everyday experiences. We then consider how and
whether an interface’s appearance affects usability and the user experience. In particular,
we look at how expressive and persuasive interfaces can change people’s emotions or
behaviors. How technology can detect human emotions using voice and facial recognition
is then covered. Finally, the way anthropomorphism has been used in interaction design is