Exploring the Affective Loop

Sundström, Petra (2005) Exploring the Affective Loop. Licentiate thesis, Stockholm University.



Research in psychology and neurology shows that both body and mind are involved when experiencing emotions (Damasio 1994, Davidson et al. 2003). People are also very physical when they try to communicate their emotions. Somewhere in between beings consciously and unconsciously aware of it ourselves, we produce both verbal and physical signs to make other people understand how we feel. Simultaneously, this production of signs involves us in a stronger personal experience of the emotions we express. Emotions are also communicated in the digital world, but there is little focus on users' personal as well as physical experience of emotions in the available digital media. In order to explore whether and how we can expand existing media, we have designed, implemented and evaluated /eMoto/, a mobile service for sending affective messages to others. With eMoto, we explicitly aim to address both cognitive and physical experiences of human emotions. Through combining affective gestures for input with affective expressions that make use of colors, shapes and animations for the background of messages, the interaction "pulls" the user into an /affective loop/. In this thesis we define what we mean by affective loop and present a user-centered design approach expressed through four design principles inspired by previous work within Human Computer Interaction (HCI) but adjusted to our purposes; /embodiment/ (Dourish 2001) as a means to address how people communicate emotions in real life, /flow/ (Csikszentmihalyi 1990) to reach a state of involvement that goes further than the current context, /ambiguity/ of the designed expressions (Gaver et al. 2003) to allow for open-ended interpretation by the end-users instead of simplistic, one-emotion one-expression pairs and /natural but designed expressions/ to address people's natural couplings between cognitively and physically experienced emotions. We also present results from an end-user study of eMoto that indicates that subjects got both physically and emotionally involved in the interaction and that the designed "openness" and ambiguity of the expressions, was appreciated and understood by our subjects. Through the user study, we identified four potential design problems that have to be tackled in order to achieve an affective loop effect; the extent to which users' /feel in control/ of the interaction, /harmony and coherence/ between cognitive and physical expressions/,/ /timing/ of expressions and feedback in a communicational setting, and effects of users' /personality/ on their emotional expressions and experiences of the interaction.

Item Type:Thesis (Licentiate)
ID Code:98
Deposited By:Interaction Researcher
Deposited On:03 Nov 2005
Last Modified:18 Nov 2009 15:52

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