As we go through life, we experience a wide range of emotions. To simplify the number of emotions that a person could go through, Robert Plutchik created his Wheel of Emotions. The theory focuses on eight basic emotions and creates various levels for each one.
- Anger – annoyance/rage
- Disgust – boredom/loathing
- Fear – apprehension/terror
- Sadness – pensiveness/grief
- Anticipation -interest/vigilance
- Joy – serenity/ecstasy
- Surprise – distraction/amazement
- Trust – acceptance/admiration
These emotions can be combined based on where they are on the wheel. The result of the combinations creates more emotions.
- Anticipation + Joy = Optimism (opposite of disapproval)
- Surprise + Sadness = Dissapproval (opposite of optimism)
- Joy + Trust = Love (opposite of remorse)
- Sadness + Disgust = Remose (opposite of love)
- Trust + Fear = Submission (opposite of contempt)
- Disgust + Anger = Contempt (opposite of submission)
- Fear + Surprise = Awe (opposite of aggression)
- Anger + Anticipation = Aggressiveness (opposite of awe)
Each emotion also has a corresponding color. For example, red is for anger, and blue is for grief. This theory of color can elicit emotions and change the way we see the world.
Designers use the way we see color to their advantage.
“Many products are deliberately designed to evoke emotions within the user. Designers have a number of ways of doing this. Most designers have a good intuitive feel for how users are likely to react to a product, as well as a good feeling for the importance of the three aspects of design that can induce affect in users: appearance (Visceral), behavior and function (Behavioral), and image and brand considerations (Reflective).”
And color isn’t the only thing they use to evoke emotion; they also use Gestalt Principles for Natural Interactions.
Over the years, other psychologists have added a few more principles of design.
- Common Fate
- Common Region
- Element Connectivness
All of these elements help our minds perceive things as a whole, but sometimes our visual perception can be tricked. Optical illustrations are fun, but they also remind us that our minds are susceptible to manipulation.
Here are a few simple examples of photos that show the opposite (or different) emotion than they display.
Here is a baby trying a lemon for the first time. There is a combination of fear, confusion, disgust, surprise, and anger. The poor baby had no idea what they were in for. Us on the other hand, might find this funny, but we are not going to feel the same emotions as the baby.
Here we see a young volleyball player about to be hit in the face by the ball. Telling where her eyes are looking, the ball is moving very fast and will probably sting for a while. Speaking from experience, she is feeling a little bit of fear, surprise, and anger. From the audience, it is very funny to watch. After making sure they are okay, its common to hear a few chuckles from the crowd.
Overall, we might see images and videos that we connect with, but there are many examples that show the difference between expressing emotion and evoking it. Both of these examples show the emotions of the subject, but they are totally different than the emotions of the audience.
Bonner, C. (2019, March 23). Using Gestalt Principles for Natural Interactions. Retrieved September 05, 2020, from https://thoughtbot.com/blog/gestalt-principles
Bushe, L. (n.d.). Simplicity, symmetry and more: Gestalt theory and the design principles it gave birth to. Retrieved from https://www.canva.com/learn/gestalt-theory/
Cao, J. (2018, June 11). Web design color theory: How to create the right emotions with color in web design. Retrieved September 05, 2020, from https://thenextweb.com/dd/2015/04/07/how-to-create-the-right-emotions-with-color-in-web-design/
Mcleod, S. (n.d.). Visual Perception Theory. Retrieved September 05, 2020, from https://www.simplypsychology.org/perception-theories.html
Norman, D. (n.d.). DESIGNERS AND USERS: TWO PERSPECTIVES ON EMOTION. Retrieved September 5, 2020, from http://projectsfinal.interactionivrea.org/2004-2005/SYMPOSIUM 2005/communication material/DESIGNERS AND USERS_Norman.pdf
Putting Some Emotion into Your Design – Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions. (n.d.). Retrieved September 05, 2020, from https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/putting-some-emotion-into-your-design-plutchik-s-wheel-of-emotions
Seckel, A. (n.d.). Visual illusions that show how we (mis)think. Retrieved September 05, 2020, from https://www.ted.com/talks/al_seckel_visual_illusions_that_show_how_we_mis_think?language=en