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Affect-in-Cognition through the Language of Appraisals

Andy Dong
Key Centre of Design Computing and Cognition, Faculty of Architecture, Design and
Planning, University of Sydney, Australia.

Maaike Kleinsmann
Department of Product Innovation Management, Faculty of Industrial Design
Engineering, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands.

Rianne Valkenburg
Partners in Perspective, The Netherlands.

The premise of this paper is that design thinking depends as much on affect-in-
cognition as it does on logical thinking. Affect is a strong factor in regulating
thinking because affect helps us to conditionally and unconditionally value
situations with respect to value codes. Such cognitive behaviour is likely to cross
over into design thinking, since the way designers value the design situation will
influence the designer’s cognitive processing. We seek here to address the role of
affect in designing by understanding the extent to which linguistic displays of
affective processing serve designing ends. By coding design transcripts according to
a formal, linguistic analysis of appraisals, the research indicates that appraisals
provide an affective frame for design propositions. Such frames can be considered
as the part of the design content, which provides designers with critical information
upon which to base subsequent actions and tasks.

1. Introduction
In this paper, we present a formal method of analysis for understanding affect in
the language of design, the language of describing and doing design. The aim of the
method is to create more knowledge about the link between affect and the content
of the design process. Applying the method to the coding of conversations of
designers designing, insights into affective-based regulatory effects on design
thinking are made.
While the emphasis is on the grammar of affective displays in language, the
research draws on hypotheses put forward in neurobiological and psychological
theories of affect. Affect is the neurobiological state incorporating emotion, feelings
and other affective phenomena such as mood and temperament. It is important
here to distinguish between affect, emotions, and the conscious expression of
emotions. According to Davidson et al., “Emotion refers to a relatively brief episode
of coordinated brain, autonomic, and behavioural changes that facilitate a response
to an external or internal event of significance for the organism. Feelings are the
subjective representation of emotions.” (2003). According to the appraisal theory of
emotions, an emotion is a response to an appraised meaning rather than an
objective set of qualitatively different and categorically distinct “emotions” such as
happiness, sadness, and anger. “The emotions people feel are predictable from
their appraisal of their circumstances (and, conversely, their interpretation of the
situation is predictable on the basis of their emotional reactions).” (Ellsworth and
Scherer 2003)
The appraisal theory of emotions finds resonance in both neurobiological
research and the philosophy of emotions. The affective networks in the brain allow
an organism to reference stimuli and behaviours in relation to their survival value;
further, it is believed that affective states help organisms to unconditionally and
conditionally valuate situations (Burgdorf and Panksepp 2006). The output channels
of these emotion centres of the brain connect with the neocortex, the brain area
linked with conscious thought, logical thinking, and language, resulting in reciprocal
and interactive cognitive behaviours. This suggests a tight coupling between the
affective and the logical in thinking.
In the philosophies, the object-relations theorists view emotions as value
judgments ascribed to objects and persons outside of a person’s own control and
which are of importance for the person’s flourishing (Nussbaum 2001). That is, an
emotion is always intentionally directed at an object.
The question, which arises, is the implication of the coupling between affect
and cognition and the correspondence between appraisals and emotions for
research on design thinking. We believe that an affective appraisal, as an
antecedent and participant in emotion, could be indicated by a linguistic appraisal,
the designer’s consciously, linguistically expressed attitude directed toward the
product, process or a person (stimuli). Affective appraisals are grounded on the
designer’s notion of well-being. The notion of well-being is related to the designer’s
aim to produce a successful design work, conditioned by how the designer defines
success. Affective appraisals influence and are influenced by affective states, which
in turn regulate and are regulated by rational cognitive processing (i.e., what is
described as logical thinking or the activity in the neocortex of the brain). The
language of appraisal functions as a dynamic feedback loop between the speaker,
the stimuli, and the other participants. The affective state influences and possibly
determines what is said (linguistic appraisal). In turn, the expression of the
appraisal could influence the affective state of the person who made the appraisal
and the people to whom it was expressed.
We believe that understanding linguistic appraisals can provide a window into
affective processing. Like Love (2001), we believe that affect must be seen as in
cognition, rather than as an “add-on” to rational thinking. Our aim here is to code
publicly available perceived affective processing as linguistic appraisals to draw
attention to the embedded affective-cognitive processing. In coding linguistic
appraisals in design text, we are not merely looking for subjective statements.
Rather, our interest is in how the language of appraisal in design is functioning to
negotiate attitudes toward the design work and the design process. In short,
appraisals serve as a negotiation of attitudes that are conjectured to be embedded
within rational design thinking. Linguistic appraisals are analyzed here as a
resource for understanding the affective in the logical.

2. Linguistic coding strategy

Two linguistic features evoke appraisals: semantic meaning and grammar.
Semantic meaning and grammar are intertwined in producing meaning, relaying
experience and construing emotion. We used this connection between the two for
develop a coding scheme for appraisals. One researcher coded all appraisals
grammatically. A second researcher checked this coding according to semantic
meaning. The differences were discussed, which resulted in a more precise system
for coding appraisals. This coding system is presented in this paper.
Understanding how language is used to construe emotion has been theorized
within the tradition of Halliday’s theory of systemic-functional linguistics (SFL)
(Halliday 2004). The fundamental idea of Halliday’s theory is that systems in a
language constrain the choices speakers have to express an idea and that these
constraints can be codified formally. Analysing how speakers actually construe
emotions becomes possible by using the analysis technique of functional grammar.
This technique aims to eliminate subjectivity in linguistic analysis by following an
analytical, prescriptive, and criterion-based method for the functional-semantic
analysis of the grammar and the participants in the grammar. It overcomes the
inter-coder reliability issue, as only a single correct analysis of the grammatical
form of a clause (theoretically) exists. A full explanation of the SFL functional
grammar analysis provided elsewhere (Eggins 2004, pp. 206-253). Below, we
provide a flavour for the analysis in order to highlight the relatively high level of
objectivity. The representative appraisal text is taken from the first meeting of the
architectural project of the Design Research Thinking Symposia 7 (DTRS7) data set.
In order to demonstrate the SFL analysis, we will use the following example: “yes
well we can certainly add some outdoor seating” (A1, 169). The analysis proceeds
as follows:
1. Identify the verb clause [1]. This is known as the Process in SFL analysis.

Yes well we can certainly add some outdoor seating


2. Identify the Participants with the verb clause [1].

Yes well we can certainly add some outdoor seating

Participant Process Participant

3. Using the rules of the TRANSITIVITY [2] system in SFL [1], decide the
appropriate process type: mental (thinking), material (doing), relational
(having, being), existential (existing) or behavioural (behaving).

Yes well we can certainly add some outdoor seating

Participant Process: Participant

4. Code the Participant(s) according to Process type and the corresponding

Participant types

Yes well we can certainly add some outdoor seating

Participant: Process: Participant:
Actor Material Goal

5. Identify linguistic resources for APPRAISAL. Identify whether the orientation of

the sentiment is positive or negative by locating the linguistic resources for
appraisal, which are indicated by square brackets [].

Yes well we can [certainly] some outdoor seating

Participant: Process: Participant:
Actor Material Goal
3. Framework for the language of appraisal in design
In order to make the system of APPRAISAL applicable for design research, we
hierarchically categorized the way that designers present appraisals. On the highest
level this involved Product, Process or People. Product-oriented thinking refers to
reasoning about the goal space and the solution space of the designed artefact,
about the function, form, behaviour, and meaning of the artefact. Process-oriented
thinking includes reasoning about activity and events. People-oriented appraisal
may refer to cognition or meta-cognitive thinking competencies and physical
design-action capabilities such as sketching or model making. The stimuli could
produce either positive or negative appraisals. We believe that the analysis of the
linguistic appraisal cannot be separated from the identification of the topic of the
appraisal, which is different from the linguist Martin’s original framework (2000).
Within the system of APPRAISAL, linguists define five high-level resources for
conveying appraisals: (1) Attitude, (2) Engagement, (3) Graduation, (4) Orientation
and (5) Polarity (Martin 2000) (Martin and White 2005). Any noun, verb, adjective,
or adverb, which functions to express meaning related to these resources for
appraisal, is considered a semantic resource for appraisal. The clause within which
the term appears is an appraisal. The most important resource Attitude, has to do
with ways of taking evaluative stances. Attitude gives the type of appraisal, which
is affect, appreciation or judgment. Engagement is often considered an appraisal of
the appraisal. It deals with subtle grading of the speaker’s commitment to what is
said by either promoting or demotion the possibility of negotiation with the speaker
(monogloss) or with the reader (heterogloss). Graduation deals with the strength of
the evaluation and can me made by increase the size of the appraisal (force) or its
specificity (focus) on the subject. Orientation relates to whether the appraisal is
positive or negative. Polarity is labelled as marked or unmarked, depending upon
whether the appraisal is scoped.
⎧ affective

⎪ affect cognitive
⎪ behavioural

⎪ attitude appreciation
⎪ judgment

⎪product engagement
⎪ heterogloss

⎪ force
⎪ focus
⎪ positive
⎪ orientation
⎪ negative
⎪ marked
⎪ polarity
⎪ unmarked

⎪ attitude "
⎪ monogloss
⎪ engagement
⎪ heterogloss
⎪ force
⎪ graduation
clause ⎨ process focus
⎪ positive
⎪ orientation
⎪ negative
⎪ marked
⎪ polarity
⎪ unmarked
⎪ attitude "

⎪ engagement
⎪ heterogloss

⎪ graduation
⎪ people focus

⎪ positive
⎪ negative

⎪ marked
⎪ unmarked

Figure 1. Structure of the language of appraisal in design

We modified the linguistic framework for the system of APPRAISAL in two
important ways. We have discussed previously that appraisal analysis is only
meaningful and relevant in light of the subject (stimuli) of the appraisal, Product,
Process or People; the choice of the subject of appraisal and the appraiser will have
structural consequences on the potential linguistic realizations (e.g., appraisals of
Product could only be realized if the subject is a nominal group rather than a
prepositional group). Second, Martin’s attitudinal positioning definitions and
categories are adapted for the language of designing in the following definitional
and categorical changes: 1) affect – how the designer describes affective, cognitive
and cognitive-behavioural conditions that represent how the designer is thinking
about the stimuli (Ortony, Clore et al. 1987); 2) judgment – how the designer
appraises in relation to the accepted norms such as standards, industry best
practices or normative design methods, or objective criteria established by the
design brief; 3) appreciation – how the designer appraises in relation to personal
experience (e.g., expertise and intuition) and subjective interpretations. The
framework for the analysis of appraisal in the language of designing is summarized
in Figure 1.
In the next three sections we will present in further detail the criterion for
examining the grammatical features and categorizing appraisals into Product,
Process and People. The data come from the DTRS7 data set that consists of two
architectural meetings (A1 and A2) and two engineering meetings (E1 and E2). All
linguistic labels are distinguished by the use of SMALL-CAPS to make the distinction
with the design category of Process and where there might be ambiguity All
appraisal semantics are indicated in italic text with curly braces {} indicating the
PROCESS and brackets [] indicating a linguistic resource for appraisal. Where the
PROCESS type is also a resource for appraisal, as with MENTAL, both roles are
indicated, with the PROCESS type taking hierarchical precedence.

4. Coding appraisals of Product, Process and People

Appraisals of Product are directed towards the design work, including its
requirements and goals and the data informing the construal of the design brief.
Appraisals of Product can justify (provide rationale) decisions taken during the
design process. That is, appraisals of Product can explain how the designers’
feelings toward the design work influenced the designing of the work. In the
appraisal of Product, the designer may rely on systems of linguistic resources that
apply an external, normative judgment or a personal, subjective appreciation. To
distinguish Product appraisals, we applied criteria shown in Table 1.
Taking stances towards tangible tasks and actions performed during
designing identifies the appraisal of Process. Appraisal of Process is generally
associated with concrete actions. In all of the process-oriented appraisal clauses, a
tangible action is being evaluated. The evaluation associates a position toward the
state of being of the action. The criteria shown in Table 2 guide the identification of
appraisals towards design tasks and activities.
Appraisals of People express subjective valuations of a person’s (a
stakeholder in the design process) cognitive and physical states of being. Appraisals
of People are generally associated with the MENTAL and BEHAVIOURAL PROCESS or the
RELATIONAL PROCESS where the Carrier is a sentient being and the second participant
is attributive or identifying. One of the major challenges in coding what counts as
appraisals of People, since all first-person and third-person descriptions of People
could be construed of as advancing an opinion. Descriptions of People tend to take
on an air of normative evaluation about how people should and should not be or
behave. We applied two criteria to identify appraisals of People, shown in Table 3.
Table 1. Criteria for coding appraisals of Product
Criterion Example
“I (Senser) [quite] (Graduation: force) {[like]} (Process:
The appraisal deals with mental) (Attitude: affect) the exam th- th- practice test idea
the concept of the work (Phenomenon) because you could take that right through
and have it so the whole answer” (E2, 454–455).
“…a deep wall it (Participant) ’{s} (Process: relational,
The appraisal deals with attributive) a [very deep] (Attitude: judgment) wall (Attribute)
the structure of the walls at least three hundred millimetres thick there and it
work would be there would be the opportunity to have the…”
(A1, 500–501).
“well and that system is going to be up and running in our
The appraisal deals with chapel so the spaghetti and all the other software (Carrier)
the behaviour of the {is} (Process: relational, attributive) [quite] (Graduation: force)
work [vast] (Attitude: judgment) (Attribute) and {is} (Process:
material) [at the moment] (Graduation: force) [sort of]
(Engagement: heterogloss) [{spoiling}] (Process: material)
(Attitude: appreciation) the appearance of our chapel (Goal)
+ [at the moment] (Graduation: force)” (A1, 597–599).
“oh [definitely] (Engagement: monogloss) [no] (Polarity:
The appraisal deals with marked) I mean [any] (Graduation: focus) sort of thoughts
the design brief and its from [anybody] (Graduation: focus) that (Carrier) ’{s}
influence on the work (Process: Relational) outside of the process (Attribute) – {is}
(Process: relational) [really] (Graduation: force) [helpful]
(Attribute)” (A2, 2028–2031).
“…area stand around there with chairs and candles and sit
The appraisal deals with there so the the dimensions of the area that we've got in
the context where the our existing chapel (Carrier) [at the moment] (Graduation:
work will be used and force) {is} (Process: relational) [more than] (Graduation: force)
their reciprocal [enough] (Attribute) (Attitude: judgment) for what they do
influences (Circumstance) then so probably…” (A1, 459-461).
The appraisal deal with ”THE ALHAMBRA (Carrier) (the relief there) oh [fantastic]
ideas influencing the (Attribute) (Attitude: appreciation)” (A1, 2048).
work (Solovyova 2003)
“it (Carrier) ’{s going to be} (Process: relational) [very]
The appraisal deals with (Graduation: force) [difficult] (Appreciation: appreciation) for
secondary effects of the them (Carrier) to survive (Attribute) and wildlife survival
work in its operational when we develop over…” (A1, 2060–2061).

“there (Carrier) ’{s} (Process: existential) an area (Existent)

The appraisal deals with that [{cares}] (Attitude: affect) and [doesn’t] (Polarity:
the social or cultural marked) [{worry}] (Process: mental) (Attitude: affect-
significance of the work cognitive) about that it (Carrier) ’{s} (Process: relational) an
area of [sort of] (Graduation: force) [spirituality heaven]
(Attribute) (Attitude: appreciation) (Phenomenon) you know
that sort of thing as they think” (A1, 2134–2135).
Table 2. Criteria for coding appraisals of Process
Criterion Example
The appraisal is taken ”yes we (Actor) {could} [certainly certainly] (Graduation:
toward a specific task or force) {think} (Process: mental) about that (Phenomenon)”
action (AM2, 807)

The appraisal is “we (Actor)’ll [have to] (Graduation: force) {describe}

commenting on the need (Material: process) the materials [in detail] (Graduation:
for an action force) on the planning drawings” (AM1, 1306-1307).

“brainstorms erm the [most] (Graduation: force) [important]

The appraisal is taken (Attitude: appreciation) one [really] (Graduation: focus) is
towards generic design being that we should[n’t] (Polarity: marked) {criticise}
processes (Process: material) ideas of other people or [even]
(Graduation: focus) [your own] (Graduation: focus) ideas”
(EN1, 7–8).

Table 3. Criteria for coding appraisals of People

Criterion Example
The appraisal term “I (Carrier)’m (Process: relational) [just] (Graduation: focus)
appears to refer to an [very] (Graduation: force) [gobby] (Attitude: cognitive-
Attributive or Identifying behavioural)” (AM2, 1695).
Attribute of the first
participant, which is a
design stakeholder
The appraisal judges “I (Actor)’{ve been [trying]} (Material: process) my [hardest]
beyond a level of normal (Capability)” (AM1, 667).
mental functioning or

5. Methods of appraisal beyond the clause

The grammar of appraisals in the above examples is mostly limited to a clause
boundary. However, appraisals often occur beyond adjacent clauses and do not
follow the grammatical forms of the system of APPRAISAL described above. We have
identified two linguistic techniques beyond the clause that designers use to
appraise: enumeration and comparison.
In enumeration, designers list a set of characteristics, typically involving the
structure of the work and how it behaves, meant to evoke an attitude about the
object being appraised. Extract 1 shows an appraisal of carpet (the appraising
characteristics are underlined).

Extract 1, A2, An example of enumeration

1152 Angela I don't I don't mean I don't can't I'm carpet manufacturer when
1153 Angela you think of carpet just- just makes ya- oooh I don't know It- erm I
1154 Angela mean it depends where we would have to put it obviously and if its
1155 Angela just a small space or just a centre or by th-the seating I don't know if
1156 Angela that would be the issue but + it frays I've seen it fray dirty trip
1157 Angela hazard ooh er cleaning constantly need to keep it clean
1158 Angela it needs to match up with other things like the kneelers and everything else and
1159 Angela they'd look faded compared to the- so everywhere that I've been
1160 Angela carpets seem to be the- the thing for me as well
Comparison: Here, the designer will appraise by comparing one subject to
another. Extract 2 shows a dialogue between Tony, Paul and Rong-Kai, in which
they discuss the desirability of rechargeable batteries. Rechargeable batteries are
more desirable because they could be recharged using a charger or from the
computer’s USB port. The comparison is signalled by the word whereas.

Extract 2, E2, An example of comparison

1434 Tony that’s a good idea

1435 Paul but the batteries won’t last very long + whereas if you use rechargeables
1436 Rong-Kai yeah
1437 Paul to charge it you could supply a charger with it a mains charger that’s
1438 Paul expensive or you plug it into your USB which is free essentially

Both Enumeration and Comparison are combined when the designer really
needs to “drive the point home.” The repetition of “it allows” and “so that” are
rhetorical devices to enumerate the benefits of using the diffuser (“it”).

6. When subjectivity is not an appraisal

One of the most significant challenges in identifying appraisals is distinguishing
between an appraisal (= an evocation of an attitudinal stance) and subjective
content that does not valuate. In identifying appraisals, the following questions are
Is the appraisal expressed by taking an external viewpoint?
Extract 3 shows that the engineering design team is brainstorming possible uses for
the pen. They offer up many possibilities. One possibility is to use the pen as a way
for people to take note of high scores in a video game.

Extract 3, E2, expression by taking an external viewpoint

910 Tony you'd probably use mobile phones to photo photograph the screen
911 Tony these days wouldn't you?
912 Jamie yeah probably
913 Tony [laughs] right

Tony’s evaluation on (E2, 910) is evaluative by taking an external stance, as

if he were citing research on the use of mobile phones. He uses “you” to refer to
users who would more likely use mobile phones rather than the pen. An alternative
attitudinal appraisal with personal engagement might have been “I think mobile
phones are better suited for capturing video game scores.”
Is the expression descriptive but not evaluative?
In these cases, the subjective content stands in for potentially unknown objective
data. “it may be a bit lower than that” (A2, 749). This clause uses a modifier terms
to describe the height of the chapel. There is no attitudinal stance in the statement.
It could have been stated as “it may be a centimetre or two lower than that”.
Compare the above clause to the following one: “there’s [vast] amounts of heat to
be recovered” (A2, 886). The aggrandizing of the amounts of heat by the use of the
vast indicates that this is a significant problem in the design context that needs to
be addressed. A more descriptive expression could be “there’s a lot of heat to be
Can the clause be rewritten to express a neutral sentiment?
If the clause can be rewritten to express a neutral sentiment, then it is an
appraisal. “the [whole] idea was we [{wanted}] to make [sure] the architectural
concept worked through” (A2, 771–772). This clause could be more neutrally
expressed as “The idea is to make the architectural concept work.”
7. Findings
Based on our coding of all the transcripts, we made the following observations.
Engineers display fewer appraisals than architects. Table 4 shows the
frequency and the type of appraisals that we found in the data provided where PD
= Product, PR=Process and PP = People and the +/- indicates the orientation of the
appraisal. As one can see the engineers did not use appraisals as often as the
architects. The reason for that might be that engineers are said to work based on
facts, procedures, and codified knowledge, whereas architects tend to rely on tastes
and disposition. As well, the different design and social situations might generate
an environment for displaying more affective appraisals. It is not known based on
these data points whether the 3% difference in appraisal rate between Architecture
Meeting 2 and Engineering Meeting 1 is statistically significant. These differences
point out a research issues: the construction of experimental conditions must be
carefully considered to ensure that affective appraisals become an important
component of the design conditions.
Table 4. Frequency and type of appraisals in DTRS data set
Appraisal A1 A2 E1 E2
PD+ 221 133 129 117
PD- 148 73 74 66
PR+ 133 77 24 7
PR- 54 12 10 6
PP+ 51 11 2 1
PP- 41 10 6 0
Totals 648 316 245 197
Line Items 2342 2124 2019 1867
Appraisal 28% 15% 12% 11%

Negative appraisals are accompanied by periods of technical analysis of the

situation and “engineering” new solutions. We observed that negative appraisals
are accompanied by periods of technical analysis of the situation and “engineering”
new solutions. Psychologists have theorized that the affective state may influence
the degree to which people rely on general knowledge rather than focusing on
specific data presented from the current situation (Bless 2000). In this data set, we
find that negative affective states, indicated by negative appraisals, influence
decision-making, where negative affect causes the designers to focus more on
technical data and analysis before deciding, whereas positive affect allows them to
rely on prior knowledge (that might not be expressed verbally) in order to proceed
onward. Let us examine the cases of negative affect first. Before AJ took control of
the brainstorming session, as shown in Extract 4, Tony began the conversation with
a string of negative appraisals of methods for heating up the media (E1, 74–81).

Extract 4, E1, example of consequence of negative appraisals

76 Tony now erm technically that's more demanding because energising the entire ( ) (PR-)
77 Tony printout takes time hammers the batteries and its quite a demanding
77 Tony thing to do so technically the stuff where you've got a low percentage fill (PD-)
78 Tony sort of faces and text and things like that is a lot more realisable but if we (PD+)
79 Tony could do that with the media

Tony and Charles join the discussion with other ideas before AJ intervenes
and sets the direction of the brainstorming. Later, Jamie proposes another solution
(stabilizers): “well I guess the easiest way to keep the pen at a right angle would
be to have a set of stabilisers on it” (E1, 154–155). His positive appraisal is
followed by AJ’s positive appraisal of this idea “yeah that’s a good idea” (E1, 158).
Then, the group moves onto the next idea, “I was thinking that a sort of maybe like
a flat base with a sort of universal joint like windsurf mast” (E1, 160-161). Tony
appraises the shape of the “the size of the thing in contact with the paper” as “it
needs to be quite narrow” (E1, 176). Again, this sets the group off into a technical
discussion of the shape despite AJ trying to steer the group “not be too preoccupied
with the shape” (E1, 180-181). As the group continues to discuss this issue and
engineer solutions, Tony appraises the problem that the angle of contact of the pen
with the media as something “that’s going to limit us for the time being” (E1, 260).
This negative appraisal sets the group off onto doing more engineering in relation
to this problem (E1, 266–327). Here, negative affect is indicated by negative
linguistic appraisals, which appear over about 300 lines of continuous design
Conversely, positive affective content allows the group to rely on general
knowledge and background experience rather than analyzing the current situation
to make a decision. Extract 5 shows that, the group discusses the design of a staff
room, which could double as a meeting space for large families organizing a
funeral. This section is marked by a series of positive appraisals of the space:

Extract 5, A1, example of consequence of positive appraisals

1039 Adrian well last time we spoke you thought it was comfortable to have a space like this
because you said that there might be large families visiting (PD+)
1040 Adrian space like this because you said that there might be large families visiting (PD+)
…. ….
1049 Angela no you can't see them so that's not a that's an issue yeah that's well (PD+)
… …
1055 Angela having tea coffee and lunch and that's so that's quite nice that you (PD+)
… …
1063 Adrian ordinary loos and on the front of house the really posh bit you get lovely views
from both the vestry and the office over the pond and you (PD+)
1064 Adrian get lovely views from both the vestry and the office over the pond and you (PD+)

There really is not much designing or objective evaluation of the space as

there is a set of subjective exchanges on the virtues of the space. This reliance on
positive affective appraisal, or what might euphemistically be called “a hunch” is
quite aptly portrayed in Extract 6, which shows a dialogue between Chris, Angela
and Adrian about a footpath over a stream. Given the positive reception to the
stepping stone idea, the group decides to pursue this design concept, without really
considering why Angela likes the idea or how workable the solution is, for example,
if local flooding would cover the stepping stones, if they would be a slip hazard, if
mobility impaired people could cross the stream, etc.

Extract 6, A1, dialogue about a footpath over a stream

1178 Chris I think something that looks like a bridge would be well or something
1179 Chris that's solid would be the unfortunately although I can see the benefit
1180 Chris of having I mean I quite like the idea of stepping stones (PD +)
1181 Angela yes I do I like the idea (PD+)
1182 Adrian well if you like it why don't we run with it (PR+) until somebody says you
1183 Adrian don't want to do that

Positive affect has a congruency effect with knowledge generation. We also

found that positive affect has a congruency effect with knowledge generation.
During (E1, 1689–1857), the engineering group discusses ways to keep the print
head on whilst in use and off otherwise. The elaboration of the switch-based idea is
an unusual section of the transcript since it contains relatively few negative
appraisals. Tony expresses this positive affect: “yeah I think there's going to be
loads of ways to low cost switch” (E1, 1711), (PD+). In engineering the switch-
based idea, the group runs into the following technical issues: “floating the head”
(E1, 1719), “the head springing forward” (E1, 1751), and “holding the heads flat”
(E1, 1780). They do not experience any blocks in finding solutions to these
problems: “you could stick rather than springs and things you could just stick it on
a on a rubbery pack or a film” (E1, 1720–1721); “spring-loaded” (E1, 1771); and
“a foam pad with an aluminium carrier on the front of it and the print head” (E1,
1782). This is not just a positive affective appraisal of various print head designs;
the group’s positive affective state seems to assist the group in generating further
print head designs.
This contrasts with the group being “stuck” on the problem of the weight of
the pen in order to hold the sheath down properly actually five hundred grams that
means “this sort of thing isn't going to work oh no it means this has got to be more
than five hundred grams to push that back if you had a sheath you have to press
that has to be more than fi- you.” (E1, 1937–1966). The group realizes that 500
grams may not be sufficient to hold the sheath down. Charles, being somewhat
optimistic, suggests that users will just: “got to press harder” (E1, 1950) and that
“five hundred grams isn't very much” (E1, 1957). Yet, Tony and AJ feel that 500
grams “is a lot is a lot for a pen” (E1, 1964) and “and then you've got all the
batteries” (E1, 1967). The group comes to no agreement or understanding about
the weight, and does not spend much effort planning other solutions or planning
ways to engineer a solution, possibly because the group also realizes that the
session is ending. In fact, as AJ is trying to end the meeting, Charles continues to
belabour the point, but not in offering a new solution. Rather, Charles continues to
argue that the weight is not a significant problem: “five hundred grams for the
whole thing [laugh] the shape of it cos can you press with a pen five hundred
grams easily” (E1, 1981–1982).

8. Discussion and conclusion

We can tentatively put forward a proposal, based upon what we have observed
from our appraisal coding of the DTRS7 data set, that affect exercises regulatory
effects on design thinking. The extent of the regulatory effect is not quantifiable
from this data set, but some of its influences have been described.
We found that positive appraisals positively influenced knowledge creation,
while negative appraisals hampered knowledge creation, during the brainstorms of
both engineering meetings. This finding seems contradictory with Osborn’s rule on
brainstorming that says that judgments on ideas generated should be postponed
during idea generation until idea selection (Osborn 2001). The DTRS data set
implies that this rule should be changed towards something like: “postpone
negative judgments on ideas, yet exchange positive judgments on ideas
generated”. It is also interesting that negative appraisals lead to technical analysis.
Designers can use this finding during their design projects if they recognize they
keep on creating new knowledge without exploring the possibilities of the ideas
generated through technical analysis.
Finally, we conclude that appraisals might serve more important meta-
functions in design than the direct evaluation of Product, Process or People. In the
spirit of the Halliday’s meta-functions of language, we hypothesize that the
language of appraisal serves three meta-functions in design: (1) to regulate logical
design thinking where affect-in-cognition is part of a highly coupled regulatory
network in logical thinking; (2) to signal and control the pacing and sequencing of
design actions; and (3) to encode design knowledge, and in particular to mark
useful knowledge (e.g., “it’s a good idea”; “it’s a bad idea”).

This research was supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project
grant DP0557346.

1. How this could be done is reported in (Eggins 2004, pp. 206-253).
2. In the notational convention of SFL, systems of meaning are capitalized.

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