On the products and experiences that make us happy

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Yang, Xi; Aurisicchio, Marco; Mackrill, James; Baxter, Weston
Series: ICED
Institution: Imperial College London, United Kingdom
Section: Human Behaviour in Design
Page(s): 499-508
ISBN: 978-1-904670-96-4
ISSN: 2220-4342


The study of happiness is receiving increasing attention both in positive psychology and design. A key issue in current literature is the lack of empirical evidence linking products and happiness. We address this examining 87 reports of product-mediated happy experiences and analysing their relations to well- being. Six types of products with experiential attributes were reported to contribute more systematically to happiness. Digital devices and food are the two dominant products followed by vehicles, books, clothing & accessories and sport equipment. These products make us happy by creating: hedonic experiences in which we relieve stress, get rest and increase joy; and eudaimonic experiences in which we establish positive social relationships, develop self-identity, achieve personal growth and gain competence and autonomy. In such experiences, products acted as carriers of reflective meanings, and enablers of experiencing. These insights provide an initial mapping of the relationship between products and happiness and suggest approaches to designing products that can bring happy experiences.

Keywords: Happiness, Well-being, Experience design, User centred design, Human behaviour in design

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