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In our daily lives we are constantly interacting with products that support us in fulfilling our needs. The way these products mediate this relation can have significant influence on our social behaviour. Imagine for instance the use of the microwave. Isn’t it so that many households take fewer dinners together because it’s so easy to heat up individual meals?
Within my PhD project I aim to gain the knowledge to
a) understand the implicit influence of design on human behaviour, and to
b) design this implicit influence from a social perspective.
To answer the first question I propose two ways to classify product influence:
1. Type of Influence - The four types are based on how a user could possibly experience the product influence (published in Design Issues 27:3).
2. Scope of Influence – Two dimensions determine the scope of product influence (time and system size); influence can easily go beyond the actual product use (to be published in the book Design Anthropology next year).
To answer the second question I conducted two exploratory studies. One for the Dutch Police and one for The Hague government. Next to this, I carried out a multiple-case study with four graduation students, who applied the method I am developing. I’m currently planning a workshop in industry and an evaluation study with experts to the effectiveness of the designs of the students in actually evoking the intended behaviour. In the end, I will deliver a design method that supports designers in developing products and services that aim at desired social implications.