Hedonic Adaptation

Hedonic Adaptation: Understanding Its Impact on User Experience

Hedonic adaptation, also known as the “hedonic treadmill,” is a psychological phenomenon where individuals return to a baseline level of happiness despite positive or negative changes in their circumstances. In the context of UX (User Experience) design, understanding hedonic adaptation can help designers create products that maintain user engagement and satisfaction over time.

What is Hedonic Adaptation?

Hedonic adaptation refers to the process by which people become accustomed to new circumstances or changes, and their emotional responses diminish over time. For example, the excitement of a new gadget or feature may wear off as users become used to it, leading them to seek new experiences to maintain their level of happiness.

Importance of Hedonic Adaptation in UX Design

  1. Sustaining User Engagement: Recognizing that users’ excitement will diminish over time helps designers create strategies to sustain engagement.
  2. Enhancing Long-Term Satisfaction: By anticipating the effects of hedonic adaptation, designers can introduce periodic updates and new features to keep users satisfied.
  3. Improving Retention: Understanding hedonic adaptation can inform retention strategies, ensuring that users remain interested and continue using the product.

Strategies to Mitigate Hedonic Adaptation in UX Design

  1. Regular Updates and New Features: Introduce new features, updates, and content regularly to keep the user experience fresh and engaging. This helps counteract the effects of hedonic adaptation by providing new sources of excitement and interest.
  2. Personalization: Tailor the user experience to individual preferences and behaviors. Personalized content and recommendations can make the experience feel more relevant and continuously engaging.
  3. Gamification: Incorporate gamification elements such as achievements, badges, and leaderboards. These elements can provide users with new goals and incentives, maintaining their interest over time.
  4. Surprise and Delight: Include unexpected elements or rewards that surprise and delight users. These positive surprises can temporarily boost happiness and counteract the effects of hedonic adaptation.
  5. User Feedback and Iteration: Regularly collect user feedback to understand their evolving needs and preferences. Use this feedback to iterate and improve the product, ensuring it continues to meet user expectations.

Real-World Examples

  1. Social Media Platforms: Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram frequently update their interfaces and introduce new features such as Stories, Reels, and filters to keep users engaged and prevent boredom.
  2. Mobile Apps: Apps like Duolingo use gamification techniques such as streaks, rewards, and levels to keep users motivated and engaged over time.
  3. E-commerce Sites: Online retailers like Amazon personalize the shopping experience by recommending products based on users’ browsing and purchase history, ensuring the experience remains relevant and engaging.
  4. Video Games: Many video games introduce new content, levels, and challenges periodically to keep players interested and coming back for more.

Benefits of Addressing Hedonic Adaptation

  1. Increased User Loyalty: By continually providing fresh and engaging experiences, users are more likely to remain loyal to the product.
  2. Enhanced User Satisfaction: Regular updates and personalized experiences contribute to higher user satisfaction, as users feel that the product evolves with their needs.
  3. Improved Retention Rates: Strategies that mitigate hedonic adaptation can lead to better user retention, as users find reasons to continue using the product over the long term.
  4. Competitive Advantage: Products that successfully manage hedonic adaptation can stand out in a competitive market by offering a consistently engaging user experience.


Hedonic adaptation is a critical concept in UX design, impacting how users perceive and interact with products over time. By understanding this phenomenon and implementing strategies to mitigate its effects, designers can create experiences that sustain user engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty.

Ondrej Zoricak
Ondrej Zoricak