Emotional Design in Digital Media for Learning

Jan L. Plass, Ulas Kaplan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Most models of multimedia learning focus primarily on cognitive factors and do not sufficiently consider the impact of affect on learning. However, recent research has shown that the emotional design of multimedia learning material can induce positive emotions in learners that in turn facilitate comprehension and transfer (Um, Plass, Hayward, & Homer, 2012). Other research has investigated which design factors (e.g., shape, color) can induce emotions in multimedia learning (Plass, Heidig, Hayward, Homer & Um, 2014). Recent advances in affective neuroscience and emotion research confirmed that the human mind is continuously emotional (Izard, 2009; Lewis, 2005; Tucker, 2007). That is, cognition and emotion are inherently interconnected. This interconnectedness is an essential aspect of the complexity of human consciousness. An important quality of this interconnectedness is that emotional activity enables and sustains cognitive activity, including mechanisms that are central to learning, such as attention and memory (Tucker, 2007). Based on our own research and that of others, we propose in this chapter a model integrating cognitive and affective aspects of learning with digital media that will allow us to derive questions for future research in this area. The model combines elements of Pekrun’s (2000) Control-Value Theory of Achievement Emotions; Picard’s (1997) Affective Computing approach; Izard’s (2007) Differential Emotions Theory; and Moreno and Mayer’s (2007) Cognitive Affective Theory of Multimedia Learning. Our integrative approach to cognition and emotion is an important step for making designs of multimedia learning more compatible with the real-life complexity of how the human mind functions and changes. In this chapter, implications of this approach for the design and research involving digital learning environments are discussed, such as simulations, games, and virtual worlds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEmotions, Technology, Design, and Learning
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9780128018569
ISBN (Print)9780128018811
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Affect
  • Cognition
  • Emotion
  • Emotion schema
  • Emotional design
  • Integrated cognitive affective model of multimedia learning
  • Learning
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Emotional Design in Digital Media for Learning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this