Design & Happiness

1. Study: Part 1 of “The Coffee Experiment”

The researcher asked the participants to prepare two cups of coffee. For the first one they used a Senseo-machine. The process is quick, comfortable, efficient and clean. For the second cup the participants used a manual coffee grinder and an espresso-maker. This procedure, from an effort and temporal perspective, is more inefficient. However, the participants make the coffee independently and therefore the process becomes meaningful. They report, while they are grinding the beans, they already smell the coffee and anticipation rises. The well-being and satisfaction are increasing. The participants experience happiness.

2. Study: “The Picture-Experiment”

The second experiment deals with the need for competence. The participants are working in an open office that they are allowed to individualize a little bit. Due to the open office privacy is low. The participants ‘task is to keep a secret. The task is realised through a digital picture frame which keeps the secret picture. This could, for example, be a picture of the spouse. Each time the participants wanted to experience competence and autonomy they could look at the secret picture. Here, two different methods are compared. In the first run, the participants used a remote control in order to switch to the secret picture. In the second run, they revealed the picture by moving the finger over the touchscreen. Due to the touching of the picture and the slow revelation of the secret, they reported a certain joyful anticipation. To keep a secret with the help of manual interaction makes the people happier than only keeping it.

3. Study: Part 2 of the “Coffee Experiment”

In a third experiment the researcher combined their observations and findings. The participants were once more asked to make a cup of coffee. In order to grind the beans the researcher combined the manual with the automatic use. The participants used a hand crank to grind the beans; similarly, an electric motor was working to refine the coffee powder. On the one hand the quality of the grinding is now excellent on the other hand the participants are actively involved in the process. The new design of the coffee grinder combines the advantages that arise from the human-product-interaction. The result is an important everyday activity and the peoples’ happiness increases.

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  • Prof. Dr. Andrew Oswald Professor of Economics, University of Warwick
  • Prof. Dr. Ronnie Schöb Professor for International Public Economics, Free University Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Ruut Veenhoven Emeritus Professor Social Conditions of Human Happiness, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Prof. Dr. Carmelo Vazquez President of the International Positive Psychology association
  • Prof. Dr. Marc Hassenzahl Folkwang University Essen
  • Dr. Martijn Burger Academic Director Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organisation
  • Dr. Adam Okulicz Kozaryn Researcher Rutgers University
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