Our Takeaways: How People Feel and Think
How People Work Assignment #2 | Elysha Tsai + Caitlyn Baensch
As we explored the topics of emotion, cognition, and perception, we found that these are highly interconnected and instrumental in defining people’s individual worldviews. We believe both personal and collaborative reflection to be productive and rewarding, so we did just that– converging after identifying our greatest personal takeaways to establish a focus and ways to communicate our similarities and differences.
One of the lectures we found most insightful was Design & Emotion. One consideration that we shared was: in breaking the notion of always designing with the intent to make users happy, what does this look like in practice and how far can we push this idea? If not designing for efficiency and happiness, what other emotions can we design for to create rich, meaningful experiences? In co-reflecting on our course experiences, we recalled attending a Pecha Kucha last year where Jonathan Chapman spoke about sustainable design. Discussing some of the key points of his lecture and presentation together enriched our understanding of emotion’s role in design and allowed us to draw clear connections between design, emotion, and sustainability.
When learning that anything can elicit an emotional response, we concluded that episodic memory plays a big role in defining our emotional reactions in addition to context and complexity. The discussion about complexity framing encouraged Elysha to be more aware of how her personal experiences shape her perceptions. Did she initially find a smartphone more complex than a living rat because of how much a phone provides use for her on a daily basis? We also connected episodic memory to the Circumplex Model of Affect. One class example that stood out to us was how Francis and Daniel placed an image of a campus food truck on different locations on the affect chart. Despite our design class sharing the same classes and general “college experience,” it’s eye-opening to realize how our episodic memory differentiates our perception of the same stimuli.
Another course theme that we found intriguing was social justice and inclusivity, where our biggest takeaways centered around recognizing who your design is accessible to. As designers, we must challenge and intentionally redefine who our “average user” is — which is what Caitlyn’s principle, personas, aims to resolve. She realized that, as we discussed in class, successful design focuses on real, specific individuals rather than abstract groups. Class lectures and activities helped clarify and enhance her understanding of the function of personas as a method of empathizing with and understanding target users.
Similarly, with Elysha’s investigation of her design principle, she found a surprising connection between her interest in marketing and social justice. In lecture, we learned that the fear of difference is a learned behavior and that diversity is normal. This inclination to fear alterity is exactly why the Exposure Effect works, as increased exposure to a stimuli increases likelihood of acceptance. In connecting these ideas, she realized that creating effective design in seemingly very different sectors of design share roots in human psychology.
The connections we formed between topics like emotion and social justice ground us in an understanding of human psychology and better prepare us to tackle problems as designers. They also encourage us to continue asking questions, especially in relation to how we can effectively apply these concepts in practice.