Beyond Affordances: Closing the Generalization Gap Between Design and Cognitive Science

JM Flach, Pieter Jan Stappers, FA Voorhorst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


As designers and cognitive scientists begin to explore human experience as a relation between people and products, there is a need for constructs that index relational properties (i.e., properties of a product that are dependent on properties of an actor). One such construct that has recently become popular with designers is affordance. Affordances, such as pass-through-able, depend on properties of both an object (e.g., width of an opening) and properties of an actor (e.g., girth or shoulder width). In this article, three relational constructs are suggested to reflect important properties of the coupling between humans and products: affording, specifying, and satisfying. Affording refers to constraints on the action coupling between actor and product. Specifying refers to constraints on the perceptual or informational coupling. Finally, satisfying refers to constraints on value (e.g., attractiveness or desirability). The case is made that each of these three constructs are critical to determining the quality of the experience of an agent with a product (e.g., the capacity for satisfying interactions).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-89
Number of pages14
JournalDesign Issues: history/theory/criticism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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