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Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things Paperback – May 11 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (May 11 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465051367
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465051366
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #21,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Techno author Norman, a professor of computer science and cofounder of a consulting firm that promotes human-centered products, extends the range of his earlier work, The Design of Everyday Things, to include the role emotion plays in consumer purchases. According to Norman, human decision making is dependent on both conscious cognition and affect (conscious or subconscious emotion). This combination is why, for example, a beautiful set of old mechanical drawing instruments greatly appealed to Norman and a colleague: they evoked nostalgia (emotion), even though they both knew the tools were not practical to use (cognition). Human reaction to design exists on three levels: visceral (appearance), behavioral (how the item performs) and reflective. The reflective dimension is what the product evokes in the user in terms of self-image or individual satisfaction. Norman's analysis of the design elements in products such as automobiles, watches and computers will pique the interest of many readers, not just those in the design or technology fields. He explores how music and sound both contribute negatively or positively to the design of electronic equipment, like the ring of a cell phone or beeps ("Engineers wanted to signal that some operation had been done.... The result is that all of our equipment beeps at us"). Norman's theories about how robots (referred to here as emotional machines) will interact with humans and the important jobs they will perform are intriguing, but weigh down an already complex text.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Computer science professor Norman also advises design firms. He brings his background in academics and business to bear on the emotional valence surrounding objects of daily use, be they kitchen utensils, automobiles, or a football coach's headset. Norman's analysis of people's emotional reactions to material objects is a delightful process, replete with surprises for readers who have rarely paused to consider why they like or loathe their belongings. He breaks down emotional reactions into three parts, labeled "visceral," "behavioral," and "reflective," asserting that "a successful design has to excel at all levels." Norman's examples of items ranging from bottles to hand tools fulfill this dictum, although he feels that designers do not often take emotion into account when formulating what an object should look like. With household robots on the horizon, Norman implores designers to redeem their mistakes in designing personal computers. His readers will take away insights galore about why shoppers say, "I want that." Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Hopper on May 1 2004
Format: Hardcover
People have needs, and products exist to fulfill those needs. People have a need for food, shelter, transportation and personal organization. Products like houses, cars and PDAs exist to fulfill these needs. It should go without saying that some needs are more important than others.
Don Norman has spent much of his life advocating for one of the fundamental needs that engineers often overlook: useability. This is human-centric or behavioral design.
In Emotional Design, Don Norman introduces the reader to the psychological underpinnings for this fundamental need, and finds that there are two other fundamental needs, too. These needs stem from the reflective, behavioral and visceral levels of cognition and affect. The visceral level is immediate and direct, reacting to the look, color or sound of a product and feeding in to the behavioral level. The behavioral level is concerned with how products function, and feeds in to and is affected by the reflective level. The reflective level is where we make value judgments, think about things, and where memory impacts our experiences.
As Norman states, people react to--and interact with--everything and everyone at all three levels; it's a basic fact of our psyche. Behavioral design, for which Norman has been an advocate for decades, works primarily at only the behavioral level. To make products that work even better, Norman argues that products must fully address people's (largely unspoken) needs at all three levels.
This isn't the same as "seeing people as needy, weak and emotionally dependent," as one reviewer claimed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on Feb. 18 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a very good book about the many levels of design. Often, you can get something that works well, but is ugly; conversely, you can get something that looks great but doesn't really work. The great service of this book is that Prof. Norman creates a useful framework to categorise and analyse these things. It is thoughtful, often funny, and in my experience covers the field accurately and concisely.
First, according to Norman, there is the behavioral level, that is, how the thing functions. This is how many people, in particular Americans, approach the objects that they buy: if it works and is durable yet not expensive, it is a good deal. Second, there is the visceral level, which is the (perhaps innate and genetically programmed) reaction that a buyer had to the appearence of something bought. It is about beauty, the appearence of safety, and the like. Third, there is the reflective level, which includes the personal associations of the consumer as well as the intended subtexts that a designer might attempt to incorporate. THe latter two are more favored by the design-loving cultural elites in continental Europe, and they are prepared to pay a lot for them as well as discard still-usable goods for the latest fashion. It is an entirely different mentality and linked to personal pleasure and a sense of emotional satisfaction that come from these objects, which blur the line of design and art.
While all products reflect these three levels, more often than not one is favored by any given firm in the product design process. Target goes for level one with its cheap and useful products, but with Graves' and Starck's designer goods is attempting to appraoch the other levels.
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By A Customer on March 28 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'm a huge fan of Donald A. Norman, and I'm working on reading every book he ever wrote. I'm now getting down to the very old and obscure ones like "Attention and Memory" (1968!). This new book combines the ideas of his previous work with some fascinating new psychological knowledge, so it is definitely worthwhile.
One thing that makes Norman such a good author is that he gives very graphic analogies to explain his ideas. One sentence that really made me think was that if robots had no idea whether something was safe or not, they could possibly just sit there, afraid to do anything - he likens this to confidence in humans. So it seems like thinking about how robots should work can only help figure out more about humans. That's why I think his new work on robotics adds yet another useful dimension to the work of a man whose focus has been a great blend of academia and business. Now he is tying more and more of those ideas together, blending them with collaboration and new research, so I hope he stays a prolific writer.
Unfortunately I was not everwhelmed by the book, but it is all very sensible and useful. I wish he had gotten more into the passion we feel when something is just superb. I have had that feeling when reading many similar books, like "The Tipping Point", "Don't Make Me Think", and even Norman's own "The Design of Everyday Things". So come to think of it, maybe writing one of those great books plus many other very good books is plenty to ask of a human being.
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