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Four pleasures


Explanations > Emotions > Happiness > Four pleasures

Physical | Social | Psychological | Ideological | So what


Patrick Jordan describes four pleasures that you can include in designing a product or experience, and which provide a useful and more general list.

A good design has the right balance of pleasures, such as the sights, sounds and smells of the racetrack that combine to create memorable excitement. A bad design puts people off, such as toilet smells in a restaurant.


Physical pleasure comes through stimulation of the five senses. Sexual pleasure, for example, has significant tactile and visual components. A coffee shop has smells and a dance club has sounds.


Social pleasure is found in the social interaction that is created, such as when people meet friends and new acquaintances. Social pleasure also comes from belonging to groups and strengthening or improving one's social position.

Designing social interaction includes creating common interests and activities as well as just making the space where people can interact and giving them reason to come together, for example in networking sites and churches.


Psychological pleasure is created the person thinks about the situation, consciously or unconsciously.

This can be created by intellectual games such as Sudoku or Scrabble that stimulate thinking and give the pleasure of 'winning'.

The brain rewards itself with a shot of natural opiates when it sees patterns and learns, making this another powerful motivational approach.


Ideological pleasure is related to values and beliefs. It is about what is right and wrong, good and bad. It may stand on its own, such as in environmentalism, or may be social, as in Marxism.

In terms of Maslow's Hierarchy, idealism tend to be higher up the scale and may either be a form of self-actualization or a requirement by a group for members to believe in order to belong.

So what?

Find how these pleasures may be used in making yourself and others happy, and design your influences accordingly.

You can use physical pleasure in persuasion just by being careful in the places you take people or meet them. Gifts can be helpful too.

Social interaction can be built into persuasion, making it pleasurable to agree. It may also be a part of the reward.

Many of the methods on this site are psychological, working on how people think and getting them to think differently.

Ideological persuasion is what politicians and religious zealots do, converting listeners to a new party or faith.

See also

Politics, Conversion techniques


Jordan, P.W. (2002). Designing Pleasurable Products: An Introduction to the New Human Factors. CRC Press

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