DS 110: Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2021), VIA Design, VIA University in Herning, Denmark. 9th -10th September 2021

Year: 2021
Editor: Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon
Author: Taoka, Yuki; Egashira, Hisashiro; Saito, Shigeki
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan
Section: Innovation and Creativity in Design and Engineering Education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2021.30
ISBN: 978-1-912254-14-9


Design thinking is an approach to develop innovative solutions, the core of which is gaining an in-depth insight into users' needs though extensive user research. The insight of users' life allows designers to define an opportunity area of target users' experience and generate concept towards the problem. Within user research, it is essential not only to investigate users' physical situation but to understand users' feelings, in other words, to gain empathy with users. Empathy in design is often formed as a form of users' insights, which are defined as clear, deep, meaningful perception into a particular design context. In psychology, empathy is feeling oneself into a situation which another person is experiencing. Although empathy is commonly understood as a comprehensive phenomenon, it is often seen to have two components, cognitive and affective. Affective empathy refers to an emotional response to affective states of a person empathizing with. Cognitive empathy addresses to an understanding of the persons' feelings. In design, empathy is regarded as a comprehensive understanding of users' contexts. Designers feel users' emotional state with affective empathy and recognize users' contexts by putting themselves to users' points of view. As it is crucial to gain empathy with users for whom designers are designing, there are many techniques and tools to gain empathy in design. Most of the techniques and tools support designers to collect and organize users' information. However, there are few techniques to support designer to synthesize the collected users' data. It is not clear how designers empathize with users while gaining insights. Therefore, this study aims at experimentally investigating how novice and professional designers gain empathy with users to formulate users' insights based on an ethnographic description of users. Three professional designers and ten novice designers participated in this study. Within the experiment, participants individually process a prepared user-interview script using mind-maps. Then, participants write a sentence of user insights. After the insight generation, participants describe how they processed and synthesized the user-interview script though interview. During the interview, the participant annotated the mind-map to increase readability. The interviews are transcribed. The generated insight, the description and the mind-maps are analyzed using the classification of empathy in psychology, which is affective empathy and cognitive empathy. As a result, we clarify that there is a difference between novice and professional designers in a tendency of use of the empathy types. It suggests that novice designers should obtain different perspectives for better empathy as professional designers do.

Keywords: Empathy, insight


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