Emotional design in multimedia learning: Effects of shape and color on affect and learning

Jan L. Plass, Steffi Heidig, Elizabeth O. Hayward, Bruce D. Homer, Enjoon Um

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine design factors that may evoke positive emotions in learners and investigate the effects of these positive emotions on learning. Recent research showed that the emotional design of multimedia learning material can induce positive emotions in learners that in turn facilitate comprehension and transfer. We sought to replicate these results with a different population and different mood induction procedure and examine individual emotions, and to decompose the effects of the design elements of color and shape. Study 1 showed that well-designed materials induced positive emotions and facilitated comprehension, though transfer performance was not affected by emotional design. Study 2 found that round face-like shapes both alone and in conjunction with warm color induced positive emotions. Warm colors alone, however, did not affect learners' emotions. Comprehension was facilitated by warm colors and round face-like shapes, independently as well as together. Transfer was facilitated by round face-like shapes when used with neutral colors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-140
Number of pages13
JournalLearning and Instruction
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Cognition
  • Emotion
  • Emotional design
  • Learning
  • Multimedia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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