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Marc Hassenzahl is Professor at the Folkwang University in Essen and research manager at MediaCity, Šbo Akademi University, Vaasa, Finland. He is interested in the positive affective and motivational aspects of interactive technologies - in short: User Experience
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Knobel, Martin, Hassenzahl, Marc, Lamara, Melanie, Sattler, Tobias, Schumann, Josef, Eckoldt, Kai, Butz, Andreas (2012): Clique Trip: feeling related in different cars. In: Proceedings of DIS12 Designing Interactive Systems , 2012, . pp. 29-37. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2317956.2317963
Laschke, Matthias, Hassenzahl, Marc, Diefenbach, Sarah, Tippkämper, Marius (2011): With a little help from a friend: a shower calendar to save water. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2011 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems , 2011, . pp. 633-646. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/1979742.1979659
Nass, Claudia, Klockner, Kerstin, Diefenbach, Sarah, Hassenzahl, Marc (2010): DESIGNi: a workbench for supporting interaction design. In: Proceedings of the Sixth Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction , 2010, . pp. 747-750. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1868914.1869020
Hassenzahl, Marc, Diefenbach, Sarah, Goritz, Anja (2010): Needs, affect, and interactive products -- Facets of user experience. In Interacting with Computers, 22 (5) pp. 353-362. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V0D-4YTV7VV-2/2/2b7015799147ab9744f5ebf2e5ae13d4
Hassenzahl, Marc, Monk, Andrew (2010): The Inference of Perceived Usability From Beauty. In Human Computer Interaction, 25 (3) pp. 235-260. http://www.informaworld.com/10.1080/07370024.2010.500139
Laschke, Matthias, Hassenzahl, Marc, Mehnert, Kurt (2010): linked.: a relatedness experience for boys. In: Proceedings of the Sixth Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction , 2010, . pp. 839-844. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1868914.1869044
Karapanos, Evangelos, Martens, Jean-Bernard, Hassenzahl, Marc (2010): On the retrospective assessment of users' experiences over time: memory or actuality?. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2010 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems , 2010, . pp. 4075-4080. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1753846.1754105
Diefenbach, Sarah, Hassenzahl, Marc, Eckoldt, Kai, Laschke, Matthias (2010): The impact of concept (re)presentation on users' evaluation and perception. In: Proceedings of the Sixth Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction , 2010, . pp. 631-634. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1868914.1868991
Blythe, Mark, Hassenzahl, Marc, Law, Effie (2009): Now with Added Experience?. In New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, 15 (2) pp. 119-128. http://www.informaworld.com/10.1080/13614560903251100
Karapanos, Evangelos, Martens, Jean-Bernard, Hassenzahl, Marc (2009): Accounting for diversity in subjective judgments. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2009 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems , 2009, . pp. 639-648. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1518701.1518801
Law, Effie Lai-Chong, Roto, Virpi, Hassenzahl, Marc, Vermeeren, Arnold P. O. S., Kort, Joke (2009): Understanding, scoping and defining user experience: a survey approach. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2009 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems , 2009, . pp. 719-728. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1518701.1518813
Diefenbach, Sarah, Hassenzahl, Marc (2009): The \"Beauty Dilemma\": beauty is valued but discounted in product choice. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2009 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems , 2009, . pp. 1419-1426. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1518701.1518916
Väänänen-Vainio-Mattila, Kaisa, Roto, Virpi, Hassenzahl, Marc (2008): Now let\'s do it in practice: user experience evaluation methods in product development. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2008 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems April 5-10, 2008, . pp. 3961-3964. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1358628.1358967
Hassenzahl, Marc, Schobel, Markus, Trautmann, Tibor (2008): How motivational orientation influences the evaluation and choice of hedonic and pragmatic. In Interacting with Computers, 20 (4) pp. 473-479. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.intcom.2008.05.001
Karapanos, Evangelos, Hassenzahl, Marc, Martens, Jean-Bernard (2008): User experience over time. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2008 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems April 5-10, 2008, . pp. 3561-3566. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1358628.1358891
Diefenbach, Sarah, Hassenzahl, Marc (2008): Give me a reason: hedonic product choice and justification. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2008 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems April 5-10, 2008, . pp. 3051-3056. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1358628.1358806
Law, Effie Lai-Chong, Roto, Virpi, Vermeeren, Arnold P. O. S., Kort, Joke, Hassenzahl, Marc (2008): Towards a shared definition of user experience. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2008 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems April 5-10, 2008, . pp. 2395-2398. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1358628.1358693
Heidecker, Stephanie, Hassenzahl, Marc (2007): Eine gruppenspezifische Repertory Grid Analyse der wahrgenommenen Attraktivität von Univer. In: Gross, Tom (eds.) Mensch and Computer 2007 September 2-5, 2007, Weimar, Germany. pp. 129-138. http://
Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Margeritta von, Hassenzahl, Marc, Platz, Axel (2007): Veränderung in der Wahrnehmung und Bewertung interaktiver Produkte. In: Gross, Tom (eds.) Mensch and Computer 2007 September 2-5, 2007, Weimar, Germany. pp. 49-58. http://
Kohler, Kirstin, Niebuhr, Sabine, Hassenzahl, Marc (2007): Stay on the Ball! An Interaction Pattern Approach to the Engineering of Motivation. In: Baranauskas, Maria Cecília Calani, Palanque, Philippe A., Abascal, Julio, Barbosa, Simone Diniz Junqueira (eds.) DEGAS 2007 - Proceedings of the 1st International Workshop on Design and Evaluation of e-Government Applications and Services September 11th, 2007, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. pp. 519-522. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-74796-3_51
Harbich, Stefanie, Hassenzahl, Marc, Kinzel, Klaus (2007): e4 - Ein neuer Ansatz zur Messung der Qualität interaktiver Produkte für den Arbeitskontex. In: Gross, Tom (eds.) Mensch and Computer 2007 September 2-5, 2007, Weimar, Germany. pp. 39-48. http://
Hassenzahl, Marc, Ullrich, Daniel (2007): To do or not to do: Differences in user experience and retrospective judgments depending o. In Interacting with Computers, 19 (4) pp. 429-437. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.intcom.2007.05.001
Hassenzahl, Marc, Tractinsky, Noam (2006): User experience -- a research agenda. In Behaviour and Information Technology, 25 (2) pp. 91-97. http://www.journalsonline.tandf.co.uk/openurl.asp?genre=article&issn=0144-929X&volume=25&issue=2&spage=91
Hassenzahl, Marc (2004): Beautiful Objects as an Extension of the Self: A Reply. In Human-Computer Interaction, 19 (4) pp. 377-386. http://www.leaonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15327051hci1904_7
Hassenzahl, Marc (2004): The Interplay of Beauty, Goodness, and Usability in Interactive Products. In Human-Computer Interaction, 19 (4) pp. 319-349. http://www.leaonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15327051hci1904_2
Hassenzahl, Marc, Burmester, Michael, Koller, Franz (2003): AttrakDiff: Ein Fragebogen zur Messung wahrgenommener hedonischer und pragmatischer Qualit. In: Szwillus, Gerd, Ziegler, Jürgen (eds.) Mensch and Computer 2003 September 7-10, 2003, Stuttgart, Germany. http://mc.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/konferenzbaende/mc2003/konferenzband/muc2003-18-hassenzahl.pdf
Hassenzahl, Marc, Wessler, Rainer (2002): Capturing Design Space From a User Perspective: The Repertory Grid Technique Revisited. In International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 14 (3) pp. 441-459.
Hamborg, Kai-Christoph, Hassenzahl, Marc, Wessler, Rainer (2001): Gestaltungsunterstützende Methoden für die benutzer-zentrierte Softwareentwicklung. In: Oberquelle, Horst, Oppermann, Reinhard, Krause, Jürgen (eds.) Mensch and Computer 2001 March 5-8, 2001, Bad Honnef, Germany. http://mc.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/konferenzbaende/mc2001/W12.pdf
Hassenzahl, Marc (2001): The Effect of Perceived Hedonic Quality on Product Appealingness. In International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 13 (4) pp. 481-499.
Hassenzahl, Marc, Wessler, Rainer (2000): Capturing Design Space From a User Perspective: The Repertory Grid Technique Revisited. In International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 12 (3) pp. 441-459.
Hassenzahl, Marc (2000): Prioritizing Usability Problems: Data-Driven and Judgement-Driven Severity Estimates. In Behaviour and Information Technology, 19 (1) pp. 29-42.
Hassenzahl, Marc, Platz, Axel, Burmester, Michael, Lehner, Katrin (2000): Hedonic and Ergonomic Quality Aspects Determine a Software\'s Appeal. In: Turner, Thea, Szwillus, Gerd, Czerwinski, Mary, Peterno, Fabio, Pemberton, Steven (eds.) Proceedings of the ACM CHI 2000 Human Factors in Computing Systems Conference April 1-6, 2000, The Hague, The Netherlands. pp. 201-208. http://www.acm.org/pubs/articles/proceedings/chi/332040/p201-hassenzahl/p201-hassenzahl.pdf
19.7 Commentary by Marc Hassenzahl
19.7.1 Everything can be beautiful
"Beauty is an important ingredient of our daily lives. We admire and praise the beauty of nature, architecture, music, other people — an ugly colour or an awkward form easily repels us. Given its pervasiveness, the lack of research addressing aesthetics in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is striking".
Not long ago, I started a book chapter on beauty and HCI with these words (Hassenzahl, 2008). And I believe both parts still to be true. Beauty still matters and HCI still keeps struggling with the concept. The alleged reasons for this are manifold. One can despise beauty because of its notorious elusiveness or fight about whether beauty can be reduced to some numbers on scales or not — as David Frohlich (2004) put it: "It didn’t seem to me to be the kind of thing that could be measured so easily with a seven-point bipolar scale and a pencil". Not to mention the legions of philosophers who already devoted whole lives to understanding the transcendental nature of beauty.
Noam Tractinsky is not easily deterred by this. He boldly summarizes what we know about beauty in HCI, which seems to be substantial enough. We know, for example, something about the processes underlying judgments of beauty. When "looking at" an object the percept is emotionally processed. This leads to a positive or negative response — an involuntary, effortless and fast process. Attributed to the visual Gestalt of an object, the response becomes its beauty. We can more or less reflect and elaborate upon this initial response and we can even revise it.
But more importantly any judgment of beauty has consequences. Through its immediacy, beauty becomes the starting point for inferring other attributes, such as how practical or captivating an object is — even when actual hands-on experience is missing (van Schaik, Hassenzahl, & Ling, in press). "What is beautiful is ..." is a powerful process, and trying to understand when and how people infer quality through a network of beliefs and rules is exciting. An even more striking phenomenon is the ambivalent nature of beauty in the consumers' eye. Sarah Diefenbach calls it the "Beauty Dilemma" (e.g., Diefenbach & Hassenzahl, 2011). In fact, we all seem to know how much we enjoy beauty. According to Maslow (1954) beauty might even be a fundamental need (which I do not necessarily agree with) and Raymond Loewy — "the man who streamlined the sales curve" — endowed us with the insight that "between two products equal in price, function and quality, the one with the most attractive exterior will win." Nevertheless, Sarah finds a deeply ingrained suspicion towards beauty in products. Choosing a primarily beautiful over a primarily usable product is difficult, because it needs to be justified. We want beauty, but we are desperately looking for any "functional alibi" easing the load of justifying our desire. That is why Apple users insist that their gadgets are not only beautiful but also more usable. It is a proper justification for indulging in beauty. There are other envisioned consequences of beauty even that “attractive things work better”, and knowing those seems important for any discipline concerned with making things. We cannot switch off peoples' perception and evaluation of the things in their environment, thus, we cannot not address beauty (or ugliness, respectively) when designing. We better know of the consequences of ignoring beauty.
Coming back to the beginning of my comment: Why are we struggling with beauty, given that we already know so much? Close-up beauty seems only half as elusive as it appeared at the outset and the many interesting and important consequences make research into beauty valuable. In a comment to one of my papers on beauty, Kees Overbeeke and Stephan Wensveen (2004) stated: "For product designers Hassenzahl’s work is of interest [...] if it can be used in actual design work. How will it contribute to new product development?" Now substitute "Hassenzahl's work" with "research on aesthetics" and you see the problem. Knowing the processes of how to derive a judgment of beauty or the consequences once it was derived tells us nothing about how to make something beautiful. To learn more about how to make beautiful things, I consulted the "antecedents section" of Noam's paper, but it leaves me empty-handed. I trust in Paul Hekkert's (Hekkert, Snelders, & van Wieringen, 2003) advice to balance typicality and novelty — but what exactly is typicality and novelty then, doesn't this just only shift the problem? — and I mistrust the potential helpfulness of advice such as "colour use should be balanced and low saturation pastel colours should be used for backgrounds ..." (Sutcliffe, 2009). I hate pastels — most of the time.
"If we could only decipher the aesthetic code!" Noam exclaims — ironically maybe — but to me it reveals the basic problem. In fact, there is nothing to decipher, we simply make beauty. Given the swiftness of the judgmental processes, many academic quickly invoke innate mechanisms shaped by evolution as explanation for beauty. That's how the argument goes: We respond favourably to symmetry, because it signals health (i.e., reproductive success). And somehow we fail to recognize that a TV set or a car has only a weak relation to reproduction — we still like it better when it is symmetric — maybe. Evolutionary explanations are hard to rebut, but actually I don't think we need them. Let's think of the judgmental process underlying beauty as a short-hand. It is one of those magically fast, automatic System 1 processes that spare our lazy System 2 the deliberate thinking (Kahneman, 2011). Without such short-hands or "heuristics", we would be catatonic most of the time — locked into endless choice processes.
But even when we think of judgments of beauty as a short-hand, the crucial question remains: Why do we react, in a split-second, to one object positively, but negatively to the other? It’s not exactly an original observation, but I suspect this to be first of all a matter of familiarity (e.g., "mere exposure", Zajonc, 1980). For car interiors, Carbon and Leder (2005), for example, showed that highly innovative designs were not judged to be beautiful at first. However, repeated unobtrusive exposure (over 30 minutes) quickly increased beauty. The other important aspect is authority. It is not an immediately perceivable inherent quality that distinguishes a design classic from any other object. It is the very fact that accepted authorities announce it to be a design classic— through exhibiting, reviewing, and giving away precious awards — which counts.
Without familiarity or authority guiding us through unfamiliar masterpieces we have a hard time to perceive beauty. A good example is the one of the street musician playing his violin for 43 minutes on a Friday morning at L'Enfant Plaza, Washington, without attracting much attention. Hardly anybody stopped; the youngish man collected $32. The musician, however, was Joshua Bell, the violin a $3.5 million handcrafted Stradivari from 1713, and the music masterpieces by Bach, Schubert, Ponce and Massenet. The same people that passed Bell in the metro without a second look may pay $100 for an admission ticket to listen to him in a concert hall.
In the Washington Post article about the metro experiment, Mark Leithauser, senior curator at the National Gallery, makes it clear: "Let's say I took one of our more abstract masterpieces, say an Ellsworth Kelly, and removed it from its frame, marched it down the 52 steps that people walk up to get to the National Gallery, and brought it into a restaurant. It's a $5 million painting. And it's one of those restaurants where there are pieces of original art for sale, by some industrious kids from the Corcoran School, and I hang that Kelly on the wall with a price tag of $150. No one is going to notice it. An art curator might look up and say: 'Hey, that looks a little like an Ellsworth Kelly. Please pass the salt.'" One may attribute this to context; I think it is about authority.
To make something beautiful is thus not about curves versus rectangles, saturation, hue, symmetry, proportions or any other hidden "aesthetic code." To make something beautiful is about deciding what to want, to make it, to expose people to it, and to claim with authority that this is beautiful. In this respect beauty is more or less constructed socially. For design this is freedom and burden at the same time. While we can make everything beautiful — even streamlined toasters — we become more and more aware of the responsibility this implies. It was us and not any evolutionary aesthetic code, who established the wasp waist, subjecting women to cracked and deformed ribs, weakened abdominal muscles, and deformed and dislocated internal organs. Was Rubens just depicting the beauty ideal of his time or was he actually setting it to voluptuous, stout, and luxuriant? Is it some hard-wired evolutionary preference or us, who decided to create a beauty ideal in cars that look as if they run on chummy pedestrians rather than on gasoline? Because everything can be beautiful, we need to think careful about what we make beautiful, how we set our ideals. This is the true challenge of beauty in HCI and any other design discipline.
Hassenzahl, Marc (2014): User Experience and Experience Design. In: Soegaard, Mads, Dam, Rikke Friis (eds). "The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed." The Interaction Design Foundation .
Brau, Henning, Diefenbach, Sarah, Hassenzahl, Marc, Koller, Franz, Peissner, Matthias, Rose, Kerstin (eds.) Mensch and Computer 2008, Usability Professionals Track September 7-10, 2008, Lübkeck, Germany.