Cognitive Processing

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 215–229 | Cite as

Reducing uncertainty in sustainable interpersonal service relationships: the role of aesthetics

  • Ioannis Xenakis
Research Report


Sustainable interpersonal service relationships (SISRs) are the outcome of a design process that supports situated meaningful interactions between those being served and those in service. Service design is not just directed to simply satisfy the ability to perceive the psychological state of others, but more importantly, it should aim at preserving these relationships in relation to the contextual requirements that they functionally need, in order to be or remain sustainable. However, SISRs are uncertain since they have many possibilities to be in error in the sense that the constructed, situated meanings may finally be proven unsuccessful for the anticipations and the goals of those people engaged in a SISR. The endeavor of this paper is to show that aesthetic behavior plays a crucial role in the reduction of the uncertainty that characterizes such relationships. Aesthetic behavior, as an organized network of affective and cognitive processes, has an anticipatory evaluative function with a strong influence on perception by providing significance and value for those aspects in SISRs that exhibit many possibilities to serve goals that correspond to sustainable challenges. Thus, aesthetic behavior plays an important role in the construction of meanings that are related to both empathic and contextual aspects that constitute the entire situation in which a SISR takes place. Aesthetic behavior has a strong influence in meaning-making, motivating the selection of actions that contribute to our initial goal of interacting with uncertainty, to make the world a bit less puzzling and, thus, to improve our lives, or in other words, to design.


Aesthetic behavior Aesthetic perception Uncertainty Service design Customer satisfaction Sustainability Quality of life 



I am grateful to Argyris Arnellos since many of the ideas presented here have been shaped during our long and continuous collaboration. I’d also like to thank Claus-Christian Carbon for the valuable comments he made on an earlier version of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Product and Systems Design EngineeringUniversity of the AegeanSyrosGreece

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