design of affects

Affects at work:
what role for design?


According to Goleman, American psychologist, emotional control is like an ability learned and based on emotional intelligence : a kind of social intelligence which uses affective informations to lead thoughts and actions and which results in a real performance at work. We owe the expression of emotional intelligence to Salovey and Mayer. Since the 90s, several researchers highlighted the importance of emotional skills in a professional field. More than an intelligence quotient, the emotional quotient allows to determine the ability to someone to take decisions, initiatives, and to influence others. Goleman thinks this way of reasoning is more important than other quotients in every kind of jobs and improves cognitive functioning. Actually, the control of our own affects and those of others is a real skill that contributes in the success of a company.

The last few years context economical and social, has developped a society in which most of jobs are linked to service sector with a huge stake on relations and customer place. Thus, the affect becomes central, and its control turns into a management main question. In companies, the affect can have a positive impact, as much as it can be negative. The stats are difficult to find and data is not spreaded. This subject is a little touchy although everyone can be concerned. The question of the affects at work is current, and we can see new jobs appear : the chief happiness managers for example, aim at spreading a positive atmosphere. If this strategy is becoming trendy, does it hide another problem? Face to a happiness dictature, what about the solution of conflicts and empathy?

Working is our way to give our contribution to a world, a culture, that's why it's one of the main questions today. This is what reminds us Christophe Dejours in his videos named "J'ai très mal au travail". However, we are in front of the degradation of collective and cooperative work, that makes the expression of individuals and sharing opinions difficult. According to this ideology of a better quality of our professional life, we tend to put aside the causes and the solution of some problems. This is those forgotten issues that I wanted to point at: the affects at work. How design can participate in the developpement of emotional intelligence in companies? Is the digital empathy a solution to professional conflicts ? Can we design the affects, can we design structures?

On one hand, technologies are introducting the will of controling our emotions, our affects and feelings. On the other hand, by studying reactions and emotions, the companies are demonstrating the valuable impact of a positive affect on the team productivity. So, I've chosen to study this field, to understand if and how people in charge of solving affects could take advantage of technologies and explore desirable alternatives. In the thesis, we will try to define the term of "affect". Then, we will make a state of the art of existing technologies in charge of the solution of affects. After that, we will apply this study to a professional context: the large companies, where following an individual is as difficult as essential.