Emotional Design

How to measure and evaluate the emotional reactions that result from human interaction.

Besides concerns of design with functionality and utility, users also have emotional needs. It is now current knowledge that emotion plays a fundamental role in human decision process. Thus design process must include tools to evaluate emotions in interactions with objects in the world.


In ErgoUX we have been using several tools to investigate emotional processes during interactions with several technologies such as games, technical aids for people with disabilities , disruptive vehicles like a bicycle with elliptical wheels, or new trendy technologies like virtual reality.

Some developed projects in this area

  • Face Reading Tool to a Digital Game1

Car select menuAbstract

Nowadays, the face reading technology could be a good solution to evaluate digital games or to be integrated in a user centered design process. The big advantages of this technology is the possibility to get direct measures in non-intrusive way, don’t require a special computer and use a normal camera. In the literature, most studies use this technology in the context of neuromarketing, few studies use it in the context of gamming. In this context, this paper presents an exploratory study to analyse the potentialities of a face-reading tool to measure the emotional reactions, when the user plays a digital game. The aspects evaluated were the sensitivity of the tool at the different moments of the game, and to identification of usability problems. Our results show that the tool was effective in the evaluation of these aspects, allowing the identification of moments of the game where it is necessary to increase or not the emotions and develop a other studies to improve the usability problems.

1 Trindade Y., Rebelo F., Noriega P. (2018) Potentialities of a Face Reading Tool to a Digital Game Evaluation and Development: A Preliminary Study. In: Rebelo F., Soares M. (eds) Advances in Ergonomics in Design. AHFE 2017. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 588. Springer, Cham

Trindade Y., Rebelo F., Noriega P. (2019) Emotions Appraisal with Face Reading in a Touristic Virtual Environment Prototype. In: Rebelo F., Soares M. (eds) Advances in Ergonomics in Design. AHFE 2018. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 777. Springer, Cham


  • ELIP Project2



There is a diversity of bicycle’ models in the market, but all of them have circular wheels. So the question is, could a concept with elliptical wheels be a good idea? What is the best methodology to evaluate this new and unusual bicycle from the ergonomics point of view? This study aims at answering this challenge. From an ergonomic point of view, were considered important measures to evaluate this new concept of bicycle those related with: functional efficiency (fatigue and easiness of use), safety (possibility and fear of falling) and pleasure (emotional reactions). In this context, this work discusses the methodological approach to get these measures. The efficiency of the proposed methodology is discussed, by analyzing the results of a pilot study. This analysis showed that the proposed methodology was effective to evaluate a new concept of an innovative product.

2 F. Rebelo, A. Figueiredo, P. Noriega, T. Cotrim, T. Oliveira and T. Borges (2015). “A Methodological Approach to Evaluate a New Bicycle Concept With Elliptical Wheels”. Procedia Manufacturing, 3, 6361-6368. doi: 10.1016/j.promfg.2015.07.960


  • Emotional Reactions to Different Wheelchairs Designs3

Wheelchairs models selected for this study A traditional wheelchair and B modern W640


The emotional reactions caused during the interaction with a product interfered in the evaluation by the user. For the assistive technologies, like the wheelchairs, there is a range of emotional reactions associated with the image of disease, despite the importance of these products for the independence of the people. Many studies about wheelchairs focused in biomechanical and functional aspects, without emphasis in other aspects of the user experience with these products. In this context, the aim of this work is to evaluate if the wheelchair with different design features provoke different emotional reactions in users and non-users of this assistive technology. Geneva Emotional Wheel was applied to 30 people wheelchair users and 30 people wheelchair non-users during a video with two wheelchairs in a virtual environment 3D. The results indicate that a wheelchair with a modern design causes more positive emotional reactions than a wheelchair with traditional design. It is considered these results can cooperate with wheelchair designers, as well as in health services in the context of prescription of this assistive technology.

3 Carneiro L., Rebelo F., Noriega P. (2019) Different Wheelchairs Designs Influence Emotional Reactions from Users and Non-users?. In: Rebelo F., Soares M. (eds) Advances in Ergonomics in Design. AHFE 2018. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 777. Springer, Cham


  • Evaluation of the Relationship Between Virtual Environments and Emotions4


This study describes the emotional responses to the use of virtual reality (VR) environments. Namely the relation between different environments and axial emotional dimensions: valence, arousal and dominance. To better understand this relation, were also evaluated presence, concentration, relaxation. We evaluated the experience of 146 participants in three virtual environments: Helix® (a roller coaster experience); Yana® (a beach sunset/sunrise experience); Surge® (an abstract environment transformation experience). Helix® proved to be a facilitator of presence and arousal. Surge® results are like the Helix® except that levels of relaxation are lower. Yana® is a facilitator of dominance but levels of arousal and presence was the lowest of the three. The presence was positively related with arousal. Relaxation had a negative relation with arousal and presence. The emotional appraisals were different for each environment. These results are useful in developing virtual environments to model emotional experience.

4 Oliveira T., Noriega P., Rebelo F., Heidrich R. (2018) Evaluation of the Relationship Between Virtual Environments and Emotions. In: Rebelo F., Soares M. (eds) Advances in Ergonomics in Design. AHFE 2017. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 588. Springer, Cham

Oliveira T., Noriega P., Carvalhais J., Rebelo F., Lameira V. (2020) How Deep Is a Virtual Reality Experience? Virtual Environments, Emotions and Physiological Measures. In: Rebelo F., Soares M. (eds) Advances in Ergonomics in Design. AHFE 2019. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 955. Springer, Cham