CHAPTER 1 Introducing affect: Creating enduring engagements

Affect (verb): to touch the feelings of; to move emotionally.

It is said that Darwin was the first to research emotions, in his book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. That was nearly 150 years ago. Yet even with over a century of investigation since then, many things still remain unexplained.

Martin Lindstrom’s research on cigarette warning labels is a great example to illustrate the complexity of emotions and their effect on behaviour. Participants in the research would report that they were smoking less due to the warnings on cigarette labels (see figure 1.1, overleaf); however, an MRI scan revealed that the centre of the brain associated with desire was stimulated when participants viewed the labels. Surprisingly, the cigarette warnings were creating a greater desire to smoke.

Illustration shows four cigarette labels (Marlboro, Silk Cut, Camel and Benson & Hedges) with warnings ‘smoking seriously harms you and others around you’.

Figure 1.1: plain packaging = more smoking?

This simple example illustrates the complexity of emotions and highlights that our unconscious mind is always active. It shows that our emotions can lead us to behaviours that we may not be able to rationalise. This example also encapsulates the three areas explored in this book:

  1. affect (how our brain processes and rationalises emotions)
  2. the design of a product, system or environment (the plain packaging and the marketing of the cigarettes)
  3. the intended or resultant behaviour ...

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