Katherine Sebastian, Christina Najjar, Brad Busby, Michael Spanos
Emotions and Needs Response Paper
Reading through the various posts that students wrote describing products that fulfill and do not fulfill his/her emotions and needs, it was apparent that products are not only inanimate objects that merely perform a function, but they also hold extreme emotional value. Common adjectives to describe objects that fulfilled student’s emotional needs were confidence, pride, reliability, sentimental value, peace, calming, emotional security, loyalty, and support. Such objects included clothing, bags, watches, rings, phones, beer, and guitars. Common adjectives to describe objects that did not fulfill student’s emotional needs were uncomfortable, confusing, stressful, irritating, untrustworthy, fearful, damaging, and disrespectful. Such objects included car alarms, airlines, napkin dispensers, Comcast on Demand, alarm clocks, makeup, and everyday essentials like garage door openers. It was also interesting that once a student assigned an emotion to an object, it was nearly impossible to rid the positive or negative emotional association with the product. Many people also wrote about things that are necessary for survival as objects/products that fulfill their emotional needs. Such items included beds (everyone needs to sleep to survive), food, and phones (nowadays, technology is necessary for survival). This shows how strong the human will is to survive and by having such a strong emotional connection to such objects, it shows how powerful human’s desire is to survive.
Obviously none of these objects themselves emit emotions – they are non-living things that merely perform a function(s) for their user. However, in many cases, depending on the time or place or person present when one purchases the object described, that product takes on a whole new meanings and attaches unique and strong emotions to the product. One student wrote about his guitar, which he bought from a store in Berkeley that he visited nearly everyday for a year, from a man who handcrafted the guitar specifically for him. This student had never played the guitar previously and once he bought this guitar, it became the vessel for which he could let out his once hidden artistic ability. That guitar came to hold all the memories of his triumphs and setbacks while learning how to play for the first time. So instead of being merely a musical instrument made out of wood and string, that guitar takes on so much more emotional value. Many students wrote about an object taking on sentimental value and/or containing memories of a time or place or person. Our emotions are powerful, but irrational, and it is most likely true that if an exact replica of the guitar described above was given to the student, it would not satisfy him nearly as much as the guitar he purchased several years ago.
On the other hand, many objects produced extremely violent negative emotions for their user. One student wrote about The EasyNap napkin dispenser in the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons. Even though this product was designed to make grabbing a napkin more efficient and less messy, the EasyNap made this student feel extremely angry and stressed out. He writes, “People do not prepare to eat in a dining hall by pulling out a bunch of napkins and preparing for a necessary moment. They usually would like to grab a napkin only when their hands are actually dirty—and this is how the EasyNap was supposed to work, except it just doesn't. I've had too many a time when the napkins have fallen into the receptacle of the EasyNap, requiring me to stick two fingers in and dig around for a napkin.” According to this student, the EasyNap fails to do exactly its purpose and in fact, makes the experience of grabbing a napkin unpleasant and stressful. I am sure there are many students who feel that the EasyNap dispenser is a great product that facilitates his/her dining experience; however, due to a few unfortunate interactions with this product, this student has developed an extremely strong adverse reaction to the EasyNap. It is quite amazing that such a simple product can elicit such a strong emotional response! Also, many students talked about products that are designed to facilitate daily life as products/objects that negatively fulfill his/her emotions. These products seemed to annoy people most since they are ideally supposed to make people’s lives easier, but end up making people’s lives more difficult and frustrating.