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Functional, but utilitarian designs said to increase gloominess and depression

Mobile World Congress

Did you know that apparently, pretty things make us happier?

HTC has announced the resuts of a study that shows well-designed objects make people not only happier, but actually can reduce negative thoughts and feelings by as much as 29 percent. No, I'm not kidding.

HTC contracted the behavioural research agency Innovationbubble, who performed a scientific (their word, not mine) study of 2,177 participants from Australia, China, Germany, Russia, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The research shows some interesting details.

  • Well-designed objects that are both beautiful and functional trigger positive emotions like calmness and contentment, reducing negative feelings like anger and annoyance by almost a third (29%)
  • Purely functional objects that are not beautiful increased negative emotions like gloominess and depression by 23%
  • Poor functionality hinders creativity, making it 45% more difficult to be creative
  • Positive moods make us more outgoing and open to new ideas – which in turn make us more creative

Clearly, this is a subtle (OK, not-so-subtle) dig at the competition in the Android space. Maybe it's time to do a study of why people don't buy well-designed phones ...

The full press release is below. Try not to kill each other in the comments, OK?


HTC RESEARCH REVEALS GOOD DESIGN MAKES US HAPPY

Well-designed objects shown to reduce strong negative feelings like anger and annoyance

Barcelona, Spain, February 24, 2014 – Surrounding ourselves with well-designed everyday objects can have the same positive effect on our mood and wellbeing as looking at a work of art or as doing exercise. A new global piece of research commissioned by HTC, a world leader in smartphone design and innovation, reveals that people feel happier looking at and using beautiful objects that work well. The results also show that being in a calmer and more contented state of mind can help fuel our creativity.

Key findings

The scientific study assessed the physical (biometric) responses of 2,177 participants from seven markets, by monitoring heart rate and sweat on skin, in addition to conducting a series of online creativity tests. Looking at and interacting with everyday objects that were ‘beautiful’, ‘functional’ or ‘beautiful and functional’ in the home and in the workplace revealed that:

  • Well-designed objects that are both beautiful and functional trigger positive emotions like calmness and contentment, reducing negative feelings like anger and annoyance by almost a third (29%)
  • Purely functional objects that are not beautiful increased negative emotions like gloominess and depression by 23%
  • Poor functionality hinders creativity, making it 45% more difficult to be creative
  • Positive moods make us more outgoing and open to new ideas – which in turn make us more creative
  • There were no major differences amongst the seven countries taking part in the study

The emotional impact of beauty and functionality

Dr Simon Moore, Chartered Psychologist and Management Director of behavioural research agency Innovationbubble, explains: “Beauty induces stable long-term positive emotions and has a cathartic effect on negative emotions. Going for a walk in the countryside or on the beach can lift our mood. Looking at a brilliant photograph or a renowned painting can move us to tears. At the other end of the scale, high impact positive emotions – elation, excitement and delight – don’t last long. They can’t – they’re too exhausting to sustain and, as such, are not conducive to creativity.” Dr Moore also remarked that many of the study’s participants consciously surrounded their work-stations or certain areas in their homes with beautiful objects:

  • “Having beautiful products around my workstation mark my creative territory.” Lin (26) – Student, China
  • “Having beautiful things to look at soothes me when I’m stressed and inspires me when I need to create.”Mei-hui (22) – Nanny, Taiwan

Looking, admiring and touching well-designed objects act like an ‘emotional vitamin’ boosting our feelings of happiness and pleasure and buffering us against stress and tension. It’s no surprise then that design is a top global purchase driver for smartphones* since we carry them with us everywhere.

“At HTC, we’ve always known instinctively that good design is important. It’s not just about creating a gorgeous phone that looks and feels great – it is about understanding the impact that well designed everyday objects have on people’s emotions and behaviour. So we put it to the test, said Claude Zellweger, principal designer at HTC.

“And what that test revealed was an interesting fact: good design makes you happy. So when we craft an everyday object like the HTC One, that goes on to receive critical acclaim, we know that we have done something right, that we have designed a phone that consumers really want”.

Top tips to fuel happiness and creativity in all aspects of our busy and stressful lives by Dr Simon Moore:

  • Tip one: Have a good friend at work. Take time to get to know your co-workers – you important for occupational happiness as they can make you smile and make you more robust in dealing with stress.
  • Tip two: Brighten up your home. Psychological studies have shown the power of natural light on our wellbeing, happiness and creativity. If you have limited windows, you can make your home brighter by using lighter hues of paint color or install some natural light bulbs where you like to spend a lot of your time.
  • Tip three: Laugh more. Children laugh about 200 times per day; adults laugh an average of 15 times per day. Laughing releases stress busting hormones so find the funny side of things.
  • Tip four: Accept that only you see the world the way you do – everyone comes from their own planet. The more you compare with what ‘you would have done/said’ the less happy you will be in your relationships.
  • Tip five: Get active. Taking a walk or a ride on a bus can often give you some well needed respite and calm and can generate those ‘aha’ moments. Many inventors have had their best ideas doing something different.
  • Tip six: Surround yourself with well-designed objects. The study commissioned by HTC shows that good design of everyday objects can make you happy, which in turn fuels creativity. Feeling blue? Creative block? Bring out that teapot.
 

Reader comments

HTC-funded research shows that beautiful things make people happier

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So....they spent money to find this out? Lol. I guess ugly things make people sad, research this HTC.

Posted via Android Central App

I loved the HTC One and I think their UI is the only android skin that looks good but the phone disappointed me. It has a mediocre 4mp camera and low light performance was horrible. My pictures more often than not were ugly with that purple haze...

Posted via Android Central App

My carrier effects my mood more than the appearance of my device. My LG G2 is beautiful, but I still want to bite it in two when Sprint won't send my sms text, or my call keeps going in and out. Like being married to a Russian Supermodel.

I don't know if this is true or not, but the masses constantly choosing form over function makes me mental :P 'Oh, look at that phone... it has an SD card slot. you can replace the battery, and it can take a direct hit with a hammer. But that cheap plastic, ewww!"

HTC is on the verge of something big here. Why are they spending money on researching human emotions? Hmmm...I think the HTC Two will be better than we all thought?

Posted via Android Central App

Two years ago, their "scientific research" told them that the only thing their customers cared about was thinness.

Maybe they should do the "research" first, before they make the decision...no, that would be scientific.

Posted from the (4.2 updated) redheaded stepchild of the Nexii