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Emotional Web-Based Design- The Concepts of Emotional Experience and Emotional Expression

Emotional Web-Based Design- The Concepts of Emotional Experience and Emotional Expression

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Published by Zacharias Lekkas

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Published by: Zacharias Lekkas on Jun 14, 2012
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Zacharias Lekkas
, Nikos Tsianos
, Panagiotis Germanakos
, Constantinos Mourlas
, GeorgeSamaras
Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, 5 Stadiou Str, GR 105-62, Athens, Hellas zlekkas@gmail.com, {ntsianos, mourlas}@media.uoa.gr 
Computer Science Department, University of Cyprus, CY-1678 Nicosia, Cyprus{pgerman, cssamara}@cs.ucy.ac.cy
 Institute of Informatics and Telematics – CNR, 56124, Pisa, Italy
For many years people have been trying to measure differences between individuals. Over the course of time, acombination of developments in statistical know-how and the evolution of thought within psychology enabled therefinement of measures, and subsequently the assessment of more specific factors in the field of individual differenceslike different kinds of ability, affect and emotion. This knowledge has been used in many areas within psychology and atthe same time the advancement of technology has enabled the development of web-based systems that measure specificfactors relevant to specific situations.
Our research focuses on the emotional mechanisms that drive human behaviour ingeneral and how we can implement a set of rules to web design so that we can promote system adaptability on the veryimportant field of human emotions which is at the same time extremely difficult to describe and define. In this paper weintroduce our model of emotion regulation and we present our first experimental results that concern the concepts of emotional experience and emotional expression and their effect on decision making and problem solving styles.Furthermore, we present the implications that these theoretical and empirical representations can have in web applicationsand design.
Emotion regulation, emotional experience, emotional expression, decision making, problem solving
Since 1994, the Internet has emerged as a fundamental information and communication medium that hasgenerated extensive enthusiasm. The Internet has been adopted by the mass market much quicker than anyother technology over the past century and is currently providing an electronic connection betweenprogressive businesses and millions of customers and potential customers whose age, education, occupation,interest, and income demographics are excellent for sales. The explosive growth in the size and use of theWWW as well as the complicated nature of most Web structures result in orientation difficulties, as usersoften lose sight of the goal of their inquiry, look for stimulating rather than informative material, or even usethe navigational features unwisely. As the e-Services sector is rapidly evolving, the need for such Webstructures that satisfy the heterogeneous needs of its users is becoming more and more evident.To alleviate such navigational difficulties, researchers have put huge amounts of effort to identify thepeculiarities of each user group. Their goal is to analyze and design methodologies and systems that could
This work is co-funded by the EU project CONET (INFSO-ICT-224053) and by the project smarTag (within theframework of University of Cyprus internal funded projects).
deliver up-to-date adaptive and personalized information, with regards to products or services (Mulvenna etal, 2002). Further consideration and analysis of parameters and contexts such as users’ cognitive and mentalcapabilities, socio-psychological factors, emotional states and attention grabbing strategies should beextensively investigated. All these characteristics could affect the apt collection of users’ customizationrequirements and along with the ‘traditional’ user characteristics (i.e. name, age, education, experience,profession etc.) constitute a comprehensive user profile that serves as the ground element of most of thesesystems offering in return the best adaptive environments to their preferences and demands.Adaptivity is a particular functionality that alleviates navigational difficulties by distinguishing betweeninteractions of different users within the information space (Eklund & Sinclair, 2000). The user population isnot homogeneous, nor should be treated as such. To be able to deliver quality knowledge, systems should betailored to the needs of individual users providing them personalized and adapted information based on theirperceptions, reactions, and demands.Web-based information systems are increasingly being used for learning and training applications.Computers are becoming better and more sophisticated every day. They can already perceive informationrelated to user needs, preferences and characteristics (Cingil et al, 2000; Kim, 2002). One possibleimplementation of a Web-based system’s interface that can appraise human characteristics is through the useof a series of online tests and questionnaires that can assess the psychological abilities and properties of theuser (Picard, 1997).The concepts of emotion and affect underpin psychology’s attempt to identify the unique character of individuals. The terms describe properties of behavior which concern the individual’s typical ways of copingwith life events (Lewis & Haviland-Jones, 2004). Norman (2004) argued that in order for media tocommunicate better with people they need to be able to understand our emotion and in order to do that theyneed to have emotions as well. An in-depth model that grasps the complexity of these underlying concepts isthe first purpose of our research. Instead of selecting one area of implementation we are trying to combinevarious levels of analyses and form a typology that will help us circle effectively the cognitive and affectivemechanisms of the brain. In order to apply a purely psychological construct to a digital platform we adjustthe various theories concerning cognition and emotion having in mind to make our model flexible andapplicable to users’ profiles, needs and preferences. In order to manipulate the emotional parametersaccording to user characteristics, our research has to go through the stage of extracting quantified elementsthat represent deeper psychological and affective abilities. The latter cannot be directly used in a webenvironment, but a numerical equivalent can define a user characteristic. We developed a theory and acorresponding battery of questionnaires for the concept of Emotion Regulation. Our psychological model hastwo base elements: The experiential level which is the actual emotional experience and emotional expressionof the individual (the capacity of a human being to sense, experience and express specific emotionalsituations) and the rational level which is the multiple ways with which the individual recognizes andmanages emotions. An effort to construct a model that predicts the role of specific emotions is beyond thescope of our research, due to the complexity and the numerous confounding variables that would make suchan attempt rather impossible. We focus on emotion regulation as an emotional mechanism and not on anumber of basic emotions because experiential emotion regulation can provide some indirect measurement of general emotional mechanisms since it manages a number of emotional factors like anxiety, boredom effectsand frustration. Our model would be problematic without a regulatory mechanism of emotion. For this reasonwe included also the rational level of Emotion Regulation that is comprised from terms like emotionrecognition, emotional management and emotional motivation. Emotion regulation is the way in which anindividual perceives and controls his emotions. Individuals attempt to influence which emotions they have,when they have them and how they experience and express them (Bechara et al, 2000). By combining theaffective state of the individual with his regulatory mechanism we can reach into a conclusion of howemotions influence his performance and the outcome of his behavior.
Theorists from a variety of orientations tend to agree in two emotional processing systems. There isconsiderable conceptual overlap in their formulations:
A schematic, associative and implicit system that has connections with bodily response systems.This mode involves fast and automatic processes such as priming and spreading activation. Itoften involves large numbers of memories in parallel. It is not wholly dependent on verbalinformation – visual, kinaesthetic or other cues could provide the basis for priming or activatingan emotional memory.
An abstract propositional ‘rational’ system that is analytical, reflective, logical and relies on highlevel executive functions. It is primarily based on verbally accessible semantic information.Individuals can utilize these two systems to process information. The first system relies on experience andintuition. In particular, individuals consider issues intuitively and effortlessly. Rather than reflect upon thevarious considerations in sequence, individuals form a global impression of issues. In addition, rather thanapply logical rules or symbolic codes, such as words or numbers, individuals consider vivid representationsof objects or events. These representations are filled with the emotions, details, features, and sensations thatcorrespond to the objects or events. Finally, learning is equated to ascertain associations from directexperiences.The second system, in contrast, relies on logic and rationality. In particular, individuals analyze issueswith effort, logic, and deliberation rather than rely on intuition. To decide upon issues, they rely on logicalrules and symbolic codes. The context (details, features, and emotions) that correspond to objects or eventsare disregarded. To facilitate learning in this system, individuals learn the rules of reasoning that arepromulgated in society.
Figure 1. The Emotion Regulation Model
Recent neuroscientific findings are consistent with these multi-level conceptualisations. Le Doux (1998)has reviewed evidence suggesting that emotion networks have direct anatomical connections to both theneocortex and the amygdala. Events that are highly emotional are likely to be registered at both subcorticaland cortical levels. The subcortical route is shorter and rapid whereas the cortical route is longer and slower.In the subcortical route sensory information goes from the thalamus directly to the amygdala. In the corticalroute information is sent from the thalamus to both the cortex and hippocampus and is then projected to theamygdala. As noted by Samilov & Goldfried, (2000) these recent findings support a qualitative distinctionbetween cortically based and subcortical levels of information processing. They imply that not all emotionalresponses are mediated cortically; rather, some may by initiated without any cognitive participation:“Emotional responses can occur without the involvement of the higher processing systems of the brain,systems believed to be involved in thinking, reasoning, and consciousness” (LeDoux, 1998, pp. 161)Our Model of Emotion Regulation includes as well two levels of processing in relation to theaforementioned concept of processing but we consider that these two levels are connected closely with each

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