Mood granularity for design: Introducing a holistic typology of 20 mood states

Haian Xue*, Pieter M.A. Desmet, Steven F. Fokkinga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
594 Downloads (Pure)


This paper introduces a holistic typology of 20 mood states that are presented with a componential approach, describing six aspects: subjective feeling, perception, reaction, tendency, liking, and disliking. In addition, each mood is illustrated with a short example narrative and a collection of four images. The typology was generated by combining the results of two studies. With a lexical analysis and researcher introspections, Study 1 examined 135 mood words, which resulted in an initial identification of mood states and corresponding verbal and pictorial descriptions. Study 2 validated and enriched these results with a phenomenological analysis of 159 introspective mood samples that were collected by a group of nine co-researchers in a two-week mood diary exercise. The mood typology provides a fine-grained overview and a vocabulary of user moods. Designers and design researchers can use these results as a foundation for systematic mood-focused design research, as a means to develop mood sensibility and granularity (i.e., the ability to distinguish between moods and the variety of mood manifestations), and as a tool to facilitate user interviews in empathy-based design processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
JournalInternational Journal of Design
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Empathy
  • Mood Granularity
  • Mood Typology
  • Mood-focused Design
  • Rich Description


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