Food for Mood: A study to unravel our moody food interactions
Houwen, Leonie (TU Delft Industrial Design Engineering)
Desmet, Pieter (mentor)
Degree granting institution
Schifferstein, Hendrik N.J. (mentor)
Delft University of Technology
Design for Interaction
Food and mood are inseparably connected to each other. What you eat has an influence on how you feel. On the other hand, the mood you are in influences what you (would like to) eat. Why do we choose certain products, and why do these products give us comfort? This was the theme of this graduation project.
Prior research on food and mood shows that eating behaviour and negative mood both affect physical and mental health. These studies often view food-mood relations from a psychological or nutritional perspective. Remarkable in these studies is that the focus is almost always on food in relation to negative moods. The full spectrum of moods is never looked at.
Instead of a psychological approach, this thesis focuses on the interaction between food and mood on different spectra of negative and positive moods. The aim of this project is to clear up the food-mood relationship and to use these findings in design interventions in order to make people improve their mood with food.
From extensive literature research on mood, mood regulations and comfort food the mechanism of how food influences mood and vice versa was mapped. Through this overview became clear that in current research contexts and situations of consumption are underexposed.
Qualitative research was conducted in order to find out more about the context and interactions in this mechanism. Twelve people were interviewed on their food is less unambiguous then expected. People have different food preferences and eating habits when it comes to a certain mood. It was even found that within one mood, an individual could act different from time to time and use food in different ways to regulate their mood. Throughout these interviews it also became clear that insights on mood regulations are hard obtain, because unlike emotions, moods do not have a direct cause. Most of these mood regulation strategies appear to be subconsciously, which makes it hard for participants to dig in their affective memory.
The found variety of strategies in these interviews, were translated further into three food roles per nuanced mood. These food roles represent the interactions within one mood.
Two moods with their respective three food roles were chosen to design for in the next cycle. For each role a context scenario was created that served as the design context for this thesis.
For each scenario an ideation cycle was done. This resulted in a collection of ideas per mood. It turned out quite some of the concepts had a reflective character. So it was decided to create a collection of products, designed for each scenario.
Eventually six designs were made in order to make people reflect on their own eating behaviour within a certain mood. Also these designs were meant to provide an opening to be able to talk about their own experiences and make these more tangible.
Prototypes were made to evaluate the six different designs. In a qualitative study ten people were interviewed in order to find whether these designs would evoke a conversation about their food/eating habits within these moods and make them reflect on their own behaviour.
The designs were proven to function as a toolkit to talk about and reflect upon their mood.
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© 2017 Leonie Houwen