Does your mood affect how you process your digital stuff?

Charlotte Massey

This is an ongoing project exploring the effects of positive and negative emotions on how users process digital files.  User’s digital information management behaviors can be incredibly varied and idiosyncratic.  This makes the challenging task of managing an ever increasing amount of digital stuff difficult for systems to solve programmatically as some of these behaviors may serve a purpose for the individual user.  Emotions may present another explanatory variable for differing approaches to information management.  More specifically, emotions may explain some discrepancies that a single user may have in how they manage different aspects of their repository.  Positive emotion has been shown to trigger flexible and creative thinking styles, whereas negative emotion appears to trigger more systematic and analytic processing.  This has clear implications for how one may decide to organize one’s digital files.  We are exploring this topic with an in-lab filing simulation where users are either put in a positive or negative mood, and we predict that positive moods will lead to more loose and creative categories while negative moods will lead to more strict and traditional categories. This work could have important implications for how systems can predict and adapt to a user’s affective states and potentially assist users in making the most of their own emotional rhythms.