Designing for behavioural change: reducing the social impacts of product use through design
2011-02-21T10:27:55Z (GMT) by
This thesis investigates the feasibility of applying design-led approaches to influence user behaviour to reduce the negative social impacts of products during use. A review of the literature revealed a distinct lack of design-led research in this area. Three promising approaches from other disciplines, however, were found; ecofeedback, behaviour steering and intelligence. The majority of product examples identified did not use a singular approach, but combined two or more approaches. Most of the examples were concepts and focused on the end result. Few commented on the research and development processes undertaken to generate the final design. These limitations reinforced the need for case studies detailing these processes. To this end, two design studies were carried out; a preliminary study using a range of products and a further, more in-depth study on the use of mobile phones. The results of these studies led to the development of a framework of attributes for 'behaviour changing' devices. In response to these findings, two design resources were developed; a detailed design project to reduce the social impacts of mobile phone use in public and a short film on texting whilst on the move. Evaluation by design professionals provided analysis of the effectiveness of these resources and wider reflections on designer's perceived responsibilities for use and the ethics of designing for behavioural change. Collectively, the findings indicated that resources for designing behavioural change should; be explorative not prescriptive, focus on problem solving, be tailored to meet the needs of the intended recipient and ideally be applied in the early 'ideation' stages of the design process. Additionally, the findings indicated that designer's involvement in, and responsibility for, lifecycle impacts must be extended beyond point-of-purchase. Designers, however, are reportedly often unable to influence product development at a strategic level. Prior work, therefore, is needed to engage those at a senior level. Furthermore, the findings strongly indicate that 'behaviour changing' devices must be prototyped and subjected to rigorous consumer testing not only to establish their effectiveness but also to determine their acceptability.