Reversal theory from a design perspective

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Designers increasingly make use of psychological theory to understand a product’s user and to support their design efforts. This paper considers how insights from reversal theory have informed and inspired design research and practice. We identify two key benefits of reversal theory over other theories: it oers a dynamic rather than static, and a holistic rather than fragmented model of human functioning. Based on different aspects of reversal theory, six design opportunities were formulated: Products that are inspired by motivational states, products that make use of users’ motivational states, products that reverse motivational states, products that provide a variety of experience through psychodiversity, products that communicate and surprise through cognitive synergies, and products that offer emotionally rich experiences through parapathic emotions. Each of these opportunities is illustrated with examples of existing products and conceptual design.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-26
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Motivation, Emotion, and Personality: Reversal Theory Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • product design
  • reversal theory
  • , metamotivational states
  • parapathic emotions
  • cognitive synergy


Dive into the research topics of 'Reversal theory from a design perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this