Advertisement

Exploring personas as a method to foster empathy in student IT design teams

  • Maren Haag
  • Nicola Marsden
Article
  • 167 Downloads

Abstract

Empathy is seen as essential for user-centered design and thus needs to be taken into consideration in design education. Personas are a design method that is meant to promote empathy with users and are also used to foster an empathic design approach in educational settings. Empathic involvement is considered to be particularly important to overcome egocentric approaches in design, i.e. to relate to users that are dissimilar to the design team. We explored the use of personas as proxies of similar or dissimilar users in a classroom design project phase in a qualitative study of eight student design workshops with personas as user representations. We found that establishing whether a persona was similar or dissimilar to the students played an important role and lead to empathy gaps regarding users that were considered old or less technically inclined. Showing empathy in the student teams was considered risky and perspective taking was limited by the social interaction amongst the team members. We propose that research of design education would benefit from differentiating the multiple aspects that are typically conjoined in the term ‘empathy’. Furthermore raising awareness for the mechanisms of empathy should be incorporated into design and engineering education rather than relying on automatic reactions and intuition.

Keywords

Empathy Perspective taking User-centered design Human–computer interaction Personas Design literacy 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was funded in part by the Brigitte-Schlieben-Lange-Programm/Ministry of Science, Research, and Arts Baden-Württemberg, Germany; and in part by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany (BMBF) for the project “IT&me—Konzeption, Umsetzung und Evaluation eines modellhaften multimedialen Wissenspools in der IT-Expertinnenbildung unter Berücksichtigung unterschiedlicher Lebenssituationen und Lernstrategien”, FKZ 01FP1617. The responsibility for the content lies with the authors. We appreciate the helpful comments provided by the anonymous reviewers.

References

  1. Adams, A., Lunt, P., & Cairns, P. (2008). A qualititative approach to HCI research. In P. Cairns & A. Cox (Eds.), Research methods for human–computer interaction (pp. 138–157). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alicke, M. D., Dunning, D. A., & Krueger, J. (2005). The self in social judgment. New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  3. Ames, D. R. (2004a). Inside the mind reader’s tool kit: Projection and stereotyping in mental state inference. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(3), 340–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ames, D. R. (2004b). Strategies for social inference: A similarity contingency model of projection and stereotyping in attribute prevalence estimates. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(5), 573–585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anvari, F., Richards, D., Hitchens, M., Babar, M. A., Tran, H. M. T., & Busch, P. (2017). An empirical investigation of the influence of persona with personality traits on conceptual design. Journal of Systems and Software, 134, 324–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bardzell, J. (2014). Critical and cultural approaches to HCI. In S. Price, C. Jewitt, & B. Brown (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of digital technology research (pp. 130–143). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  7. Bardzell, S., & Bardzell, J. (2011). Towards a feminist HCI methodology: Social science, feminism, and HCI. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (CHI ‘11) (pp. 675–684).Google Scholar
  8. Bath, C. (2014a). Diffractive design. In N. Marsden & U. Kempf (Eds.), Gender-UseIT—HCI, usability und UX unter Gendergesichtspunkten (pp. 27–36). München: De Gruyter Oldenbourg.Google Scholar
  9. Bath, C. (2014b). Searching for methodology. Feminist technology design in computer science. In W. Ernst & I. Horwath (Eds.), Gender in science and technology (pp. 57–78). Bielefeld: Transcript.Google Scholar
  10. Battarbee, K., & Koskinen, I. (2005). Co-experience: User experience as interaction. CoDesign, 1(1), 5–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Birch, S. A. J., & Bloom, P. (2004). Understanding children’s and adults’ limitations in mental state reasoning. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8(6), 255–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Blanco, T., López-Forniés, I., & Zarazaga-Soria, F. J. (2017). Deconstructing the Tower of Babel: A design method to improve empathy and teamwork competences of informatics students. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 27(2), 307–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bornet, C., & Brangier, E. (2016). The effects of personas on creative codesign of work equipment: An exploratory study in a real setting. CoDesign, 12(4), 243–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brown, T. (2009). Change by design—How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.Google Scholar
  15. Cabrero, D. G., Winschiers-Theophilus, H., & Nocera, J. A. (2016). Re-conceptualising personas across cultures: Archetypes, stereotypes and collective personas in two locales in pastoral Namibia. In M. van der Velden, M. Strano, H. Hrachvec, J. Abdelnour Nocera, & C. Ess (Eds.), Culture, technology, communication: Common worlds, different futures? Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Culture, Technology, Communication. London, UK, 15–17 June 2016 (pp. 35–48).Google Scholar
  16. Coll, M.-P., Viding, E., Rütgen, M., Silani, G., Lamm, C., Catmur, C., et al. (2017). Are we really measuring empathy? Proposal for a new measurement framework. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 83, 132–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Converse, B. A., Lin, S., Keysar, B., & Epley, N. (2008). In the mood to get over yourself: Mood affects theory-of-mind use. Emotion, 8(5), 725–730.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cooper, A., Reimann, R., Cronin, D., & Noessel, C. (2014). About face: The essentials of interaction design. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  19. Cuff, B. M. P., Brown, S. J., Taylor, L., & Howat, D. J. (2014). Empathy: A review of the concept. Emotion Review, 8(2), 144–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Decety, J., & Sommerville, J. A. (2003). Shared representations between self and other: A social cognitive neuroscience view. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7(12), 527–533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dresing, T., Pehl, T., & Schmieder, C. (2012). Manual (on) transcription: Transcription conventions, software guides and practical hints for qualitative researchers (3rd English Edition). Marburg. http://www.audiotranskription.de/english/transcription-practicalguide.htm. Accessed 21 April 2018.
  22. Epley, N. (2004). A tale of tuned decks? Anchoring as accessibility and anchoring as adjustment. In D. J. Koehler & N. Harvey (Eds.), The Blackwell handbook of judgment and decision making (pp. 240–256). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Epley, N. (2008). Solving the (real) other minds problem. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2(3), 1455–1474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Epley, N., & Caruso, E. M. (2008). Perspective taking: Misstepping into others’ shoes. In K. D. Markman, W. M. P. Klein, & J. A. Suhr (Eds.), Handbook of imagination and mental simulation (pp. 297–311). London: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  25. Epley, N., Keysar, B., Van Boven, L., & Gilovich, T. (2004a). Perspective taking as egocentric anchoring and adjustment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(3), 327–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Epley, N., Morewedge, C. K., & Keysar, B. (2004b). Perspective taking in children and adults: Equivalent egocentrism but differential correction. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40(6), 760–768.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Epley, N., & Waytz, A. (2010). Mind perception. In Handbook of social psychology.Google Scholar
  28. Fenigstein, A., & Abrams, D. (1993). Self-attention and the egocentric assumption of shared perspectives. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 29(4), 287–303.  https://doi.org/10.1006/jesp.1993.1013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Flavell, J. H. (1992). Perspectives on perspective taking. In H. Beilin & P. B. Pufall (Eds.), Piaget’s theory: Prospects and possibilities (pp. 107–139). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  30. Galinsky, A. D., Maddux, W. W., Gilin, D., & White, J. B. (2008). Why it pays to get inside the head of your opponent the differential effects of perspective taking and empathy in negotiations. Psychological Science, 19(4), 378–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gasparini, A. (2015). Perspective and use of empathy in design thinking. In The eight international conference on advances in computerhuman interactions (ACHI’15) (pp. 49–54).Google Scholar
  32. Gehlbach, H., Marietta, G., King, A. M., Karutz, C., Bailenson, J. N., & Dede, C. (2015). Many ways to walk a mile in another’s moccasins: Type of social perspective taking and its effect on negotiation outcomes. Computers in Human Behavior, 52, 523–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gray, C. M. (2016). It’s more of a mindset than a method”: UX practitioners’ conception of design methods. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (CHI ‘16) (pp. 4044–4055).Google Scholar
  34. Grudin, J. (2006). Why personas work: The psychological evidence. In J. Pruitt & T. Adlin (Eds.), The persona lifecycle, keeping people in mind throughout product design (pp. 642–663). San Francisco: Kaufmann Publisher.Google Scholar
  35. Gutsell, J. N., & Inzlicht, M. (2012). Intergroup differences in the sharing of emotive states: Neural evidence of an empathy gap. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 7(5), 596–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. ​Haag, M., Weber, C., Heim, J., Marsden, N. (2016). Geschlechterkonstruktionen in der Anforderungsspezifikation von IT-Projekten. In H. Barke, J. Siegeris, J. Freiheit & D. Krefting (Eds.), Gender und IT-Projekte - Neue Wege zu digitaler Teilhabe (pp. 61–70). Opladen: Budrich UniPress.Google Scholar
  37. Hammond, M. M., & Kim, S. J. (2014). Rethinking empathy through literature (Vol. 31). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. Higgins, E. T. (1981). Role taking and social judgment: Alternative developmental perspectives and processes. In J. H. Flavell & L. Ross (Eds.), Social cognitive development: Frontiers and possible futures (pp. 119–153). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Hill, C., Haag, M., Oleson, A., Mendez, C., Marsden, N., Sarma, A., & Burnett, M. (2017). Gender-Inclusiveness Personas vs. Stereotyping: Can we have it both ways? In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (CHI ‘17) (pp. 6658–6671) http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/3025453.3025609.
  40. Hoch, S. J. (1987). Perceived consensus and predictive accuracy: The pros and cons of projection. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53(2), 221–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Jolliffe, D., & Farrington, D. P. (2006). Development and validation of the Basic Empathy Scale. Journal of adolescence, 29(4), 589–611.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kelley, C. M. (1999). Subjective experience as basis of “objective” judgments: Effects of past experience on judgments of difficulty. In D. Gopher & A. Koriat (Eds.), Attention and performance XVII: Cognitive regulation of performance: Interaction of theory and application (pp. 515–536). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  43. Klein, K. J. K., & Hodges, S. D. (2001). Gender differences, motivation, and empathic accuracy: When it pays to understand. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(6), 720–730.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kouprie, M., & Visser, F. S. (2009). A framework for empathy in design: Stepping into and out of the user’s life. Journal of Engineering Design, 20(5), 437–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Krueger, J. I. (2007). From social projection to social behaviour. European Review of Social Psychology, 18(1), 1–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. LeRouge, C., Ma, J., Sneha, S., & Tolle, K. (2013). User profiles and personas in the design and development of consumer health technologies. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 82(11), e251–e268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lin, S., Keysar, B., & Epley, N. (2010). Reflexively mindblind: Using theory of mind to interpret behavior requires effortful attention. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46(3), 551–556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lux, V., & Weigel, S. (2017). Empathy: Epistemic problems and cultural-historical perspectives of a cross-disciplinary concept. Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Marsden, N., & Haag, M. (2016). Stereotypes and politics: Reflections on Personas. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (CHI ‘16) (pp. 4017–4031).Google Scholar
  50. Mattelmäki, T., Vaajakallio, K., & Koskinen, I. (2014). What happened to empathic design? Design Issues, 30(1), 67–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Miaskiewicz, T., & Kozar, K. A. (2011). Personas and user-centered design: How can personas benefit product design processes? Design Studies, 32(5), 417–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mitchell, J. P., Macrae, C. N., & Banaji, M. R. (2006). Dissociable medial prefrontal contributions to judgments of similar and dissimilar others. Neuron, 50(4), 655–663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Monin, B. (2003). The warm glow heuristic: When liking leads to familiarity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85(6), 1035–1048.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Nickerson, R. S. (1999). How we know—and sometimes misjudge—what others know: Imputing one’s own knowledge to others. Psychological Bulletin, 125(6), 737–759.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Nielsen, L. (2013). Personas—user focused design. Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Oudshoorn, N., Rommes, E., & Stienstra, M. (2004). Configuring the user as everybody: Gender and design cultures in information and communication technologies. Science, Technology and Human Values, 29(1), 30–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Preston, S. D., & Hofelich, A. J. (2012). The many faces of empathy: Parsing empathic phenomena through a proximate, dynamic-systems view of representing the other in the self. Emotion Review, 4(1), 24–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Rapanta, C., & Cantoni, L. (2014). Being in the users’ shoes: Anticipating experience while designing online courses. British Journal of Educational Technology, 45(5), 765–777.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Ritter, F. E., Baxter, G. D., & Churchill, E. F. (2014). Foundations for designing user-centered systems. London: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Royzman, E. B., Cassidy, K. W., & Baron, J. (2003). “ I know, you know”: Epistemic egocentrism in children and adults. Review of General Psychology, 7(1), 38–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sassenrath, C., Sassenberg, K., & Scholl, A. (2014). From a distance… the impact of approach and avoidance motivational orientation on perspective taking. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5(1), 18–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Smeenk, W., Tomico, O., & van Turnhout, K. (2016). A systematic analysis of mixed perspectives in empathic design: Not one perspective encompasses all. International Journal of Design, 10(2), 31–48.Google Scholar
  63. Stephenson, B., & Wicklund, R. A. (1983). Self-directed attention and taking the other’s perspective. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 19(1), 58–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Thieme, A., Vines, J., Wallace, J., Clarke, R. E., Slovák, P., McCarthy, J., et al. (2014). Enabling empathy in health and care: Design methods and challenges. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (CHI ‘14) (pp. 139–142).Google Scholar
  65. Toombs, A., Gross, S., Bardzell, S., & Bardzell, J. (2017). From empathy to care: A feminist care ethics perspective on long-term researcher–participant relations. Interacting with Computers, 29(1), 45–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Tracey, M. W., & Hutchinson, A. (2016). Uncertainty, reflection, and designer identity development. Design Studies, 42, 86–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wright, P., & McCarthy, J. (2008). Empathy and experience in HCI. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Florence.Google Scholar
  68. Zajonc, R. B. (1968). Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 9(2p2), 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Zajonc, R. B. (1998). Emotions. In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (4th ed., Vol. 1 and 2, pp. 591–632). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  70. Zhang, X., & Wakkary, R. (2014). Understanding the role of designers’ personal experiences in interaction design practice. In Proceedings of the 2014 conference on designing interactive systems (DIS’14) (pp. 895–904).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IT DepartmentHeilbronn UniversityHeilbronnGermany

Personalised recommendations