DS 95: Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2019), University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. 12th -13th September 2019

Year: 2019
Editor: Bohemia, Erik; Kovacevic, Ahmed; Buck, Lyndon; Brisco, Ross; Evans, Dorothy; Grierson, Hilary; Ion, William; Whitfield, Robert Ian
Author: van Os, Gerard (1); van Beurden, Karin (2)
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1: Saxion University of Applied Science, The Netherlands; 2: Saxion University of Applied Science, The Netherlands
Section: Creativity 2
DOI number: https://doi.org/10.35199/epde2019.44
ISBN: 978-1-912254-05-7


Many experiences user researchers will recognise the following: A visit is made to a target user to understand how she like (or dislike) some new product or software or service. At some point the researcher wants to know how the participant feels about some feature, functionality, experience, etc. The participant, than, has to think hard to try and find words for what she feels or thinks. She than tries to rationalize what she feels or thinks unconsciously.

This paper is about a tool called emogram that helps (student) design researchers to capture the emotional, intuitive, or unconscious response of research participants with as little rationalisation by the participant as possible.

In his book titled “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, Israeli-American psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who was awarded the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, showed that the human brain uses two systems to form thoughts: System 1, intuitive and fast, and System 2, rational and slow. System 1 is also sometimes called the unconscious system; System 2 is the conscious one. These two systems do not wait for each other to give their response to, e.g., a question: System 1 reacts almost immediately while System 2 thinks things over and tries to rationalize the response of System.

This continues battle between the two systems influence or determine the response of research participants. In the interview example above this could very well mean that the vocal arguments, typically the output of System 2, of the participant are not where her emotions (System 1 output) came from. As experienced researchers have learned over time to read the intuitive response of participants, design students can easily be put on the wrong foot as they are still learning to read participants.

The paper will show examples of how changes in participant’s emotional or intuitive responses can be observed when the tool is applied before and after, e.g., product changes. The paper will show that the capturing can be done with as simple means as a blank piece of paper, a pencil and a couple of sticky notes. However, the paper will also introduce a web based version of the tool.

The tool is ‘work in progress’ and there are several issues that need further research. However, our first experience is that student researchers acquire more accurate insights about the participants unconscious thoughts in relation to product design.

Keywords: emotion, unconscious, thoughts, rational, Kahneman, user-product-research


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