Research Papers: Design Theory and Methodology

Investigating User Emotional Responses to Eco-Feedback Designs

[+] Author and Article Information
Qifang Bao

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
77 Massachusetts Avenue, 3-446,
Cambridge, MA 02139
e-mail: qfbao@mit.edu

Edward Burnell

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
77 Massachusetts Avenue, 3-446,
Cambridge, MA 02139
e-mail: eburn@mit.edu

Ann M. Hughes

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
77 Massachusetts Avenue,
Cambridge, MA 02139
e-mail: amhughes@mit.edu

Maria C. Yang

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
77 Massachusetts Avenue, 3-449B,
Cambridge, MA 02139
e-mail: mcyang@mit.edu

Contributed by the Design Theory and Methodology Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received June 30, 2018; final manuscript received November 5, 2018; published online December 20, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Tahira Reid.

J. Mech. Des 141(2), 021103 (Dec 20, 2018) (14 pages) Paper No: MD-18-1524; doi: 10.1115/1.4042007 History: Received June 30, 2018; Revised November 05, 2018

Emotional responses to a product can be critical in influencing how the product will be used. This study explores the emotions that arise from users' interaction with eco-feedback products, and investigates links between emotions and users' resource conservation behaviors. In-lab experiments were conducted with 68 participants of varying backgrounds. Each participant was shown sketches of four conceptual designs of eco-feedback products and reported how they would feel and behave in different scenarios using the products. Two styles of eco-feedback design, quantitative and figurative, were compared to each other and were compared to neutral designs, which had little or no feedback information. Results showed that taking resource conservation actions such as turning off lights was highly correlated with negative emotions toward wasting resources, such as guilt, upset, embarrassment, and annoyance. Users' evaluations of esthetics, usefulness, and overall quality of eco-feedback products, however, were highly correlated with positive emotions toward resource conservation, described as satisfied, proud, interested, and joyful. Figurative designs were observed to evoke much stronger emotions among younger participants than older ones. Ultimately, we hope our findings are useful to the designers of eco-feedback products.

Copyright © 2019 by ASME
Topics: Design , Feedback , Certainty
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Fig. 1

The neutral, quantitative, and figurative designs of four eco-feedback products in a conserving scenario and a wasteful scenario

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Fig. 2

Actionable product usage scenario of figurative water faucet design

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Fig. 3

Conserving and wasteful product usage scenarios

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Fig. 4

Distributions (boxplots) of intensity of 15 emotions of using the products in the conserving (left) and wasteful (right) scenarios

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Fig. 5

Comparing principal components of emotions in conserving and wasteful scenarios, between experimental groups and between age groups

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Fig. 6

Certainty of taking resource conservation action (left) and users' evaluation on designs' overall quality (right)

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Fig. 7

Participants' positive and negative affect



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