Wirtschafts- und Organisationspsychologie




Hedonische und Utilitaristische Produktattribute/ Hedonic and Utilitarian Product Attributes

Products are more than practical tools to us. Mobile phones, for example, are a constant companion in daily life. Besides purely pragmatic tasks, they fulfill psychological needs such as relatedness, stimulation, competence, popularity, or security. A model that represents these two perspectives, is the hedonic-utilitarian model in Consumer Research or the hedonic-pragmatic model of user experience in human-computer interaction (HCI). Here, both dimensions are conceptualized as important determinants of a product's appeal: utilitarian attributes (e.g., usability) as well as hedonic attributes (e.g., beauty).

Our research on the hedonic dilemma explored the specific consequences of utilitarian and hedonic attributes for experience versus choice situations: While hedonic attributes have significant value for product experience they tend to be disregarded in choice situations. This phenomenon may be explained by justification. Due to their need for justification, people attend to the justifiability of product attributes rather than to their impact on experience. Given that pragmatic attributes directly contribute to task-fulfillment, they are far easier to justify than hedonic attributes. People may then choose the utilitarian over the hedonic, despite a true preference for the hedonic, i.e., a "dilemma of the hedonic". On a more general level, the hedonic dilemma points out the various facets of influence of product attributes. While being attracting on one level (e.g., being aesthetically pleasing), there may be a critical component on the level of reflection (e.g., being hard to justify). Current studies explore consequences of hedonic attributes for the product relation over time, effects for "emotional sustainability" and prolonged product use.

Further reading

  • Diefenbach, S., Kolb, N., & Hassenzahl, M. (2014). The 'Hedonic' in Human-Computer Interaction – History, Contributions, and Future Research Directions. DIS 2014 Conference on Designing Interactive Systems. [Link]
  • Diefenbach, S. (2012). The Dilemma of the Hedonic - appreciated, but hard to justify. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Koblenz-Landau). [Link]
  • Diefenbach, S. & Hassenzahl, M. (2011). The Dilemma of the Hedonic - appreciated, but hard to justify. Interacting with Computers, 23, 461-472. [Link]
  • Diefenbach, S. & Hassenzahl, M. (2009). The "Beauty Dilemma": Beauty is valued but discounted in product choice. In Proceedings of the CHI 2009 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1419–1426). New York: ACM Press. [Link]
  • Diefenbach, S. & Hassenzahl, M. (2008). Give me a reason: Hedonic product choice and justification. In Proceedings of the CHI 2008 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Extended abstracts (pp. 3051-3056). New York: ACM Press. [Link]