ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 49 ›› Issue (6): 771-782.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2017.00771

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 The effects of emotional design on multimedia learning

 GONG Shaoying1; SHANGGUAN Chenyu1; ZHAI Kuihu1; GUO Yawei1,2   

  1.  (1 School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior (CCNU), Ministry of Education, Wuhan 430079, China)(2 College of Education, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602-7143, United States)
  • Received:2016-05-18 Published:2017-06-25
  • Contact: GONG Shaoying, E-mail: E-mail:E-mail:
  • Supported by:

Abstract:  Previous studies into multimedia learning have mainly focused on cognitive factors to investigate different instructional conditions and design principles. However, as an important factor influencing multimedia learning, emotion is often neglected in previous research. To date, it is still not clear what the relationship between emotion and learning is, and how we should design multimedia learning materials to foster positive emotions and learning. To answer these questions, the present research designed two experiments to explore the effects of emotional design of multimedia materials on positive emotions and learning. In two experiments, the multimedia learning material was an animation named “The Formation of Lighting”. In experiment 1, one hundred and eleven participants were randomly assigned to four conditions created by two factors: external emotion induction (positive vs. neutral) and internal emotional design (positive vs. neutral). External induction of emotions was conducted by means of watching films while internal emotional design was conducted by emotional design of the learning material. In experiment 2, we separately explored the effects of design elements of color (chromatic vs. achromatic) and anthropomorphism (anthropomorphism vs. no anthropomorphism) on learners' emotions, cognitive processes and learning performance. One hundred and seven participants were randomly assigned to four conditions created by the two factors. Findings from experiment 1 showed that both positive external emotion induction and internal emotional design induced learners’ positive emotions and promoted their transfer performance. Positive emotional design reduced learners’ perceived task difficulty. The results from experiment 1 also indicated that positive emotions induced through the emotional design of the learning material maintained the whole learning process compared with those induced through external emotion induction. Experiment 2 found that learners in the condition of positive emotional design generated more positive emotions, showed stronger learning motivation, perceived less task difficulty and had better transfer achievement. Specifically, chromatic design both alone and in conjunction with anthropomorphism induced positive emotions. Anthropomorphic design alone, however, did not affect learners’ emotions. The combination of chromatic design and anthropomorphic design increased learners’ motivation. Chromatic design also reduced learners’ perceived task difficulty. Chromatic design and anthropomorphic design facilitated transfer performance independently as well as together. These findings suggest that internal positive emotional design is a better way to induce learners’ positive emotions and facilitate learning processes as well as learning outcomes than external emotion induction. Emotion should be considered an important factor in the design of multimedia learning materials. Future research needs to explore the effects of more other design elements on learners’ positive emotions and learning outcomes. Direct measures of emotion and cognitive processes during learning are needed to pinpoint the mechanisms underlying the emotional design effect.

Key words:  multimedia learning, emotional design, anthropomorphism, positive emotion, learning effect

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