How can designers use emotions to promote positive behaviour change?

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Design Engineering


The research will focus on improving consumer's physical activity levels, through product design. To do this, behaviour change and emotional design are investigated and relevant aspects of each are applied to new ideas, creating emotion based tools that will help designers create products that have a lasting and positive effect on consumer physical activity levels. This new Design for X (DfX) will be called Design for Individual Health (DfIH).

Health is a gift we give ourselves and if we, as designers, can create products that help people understand this, therefore leading our consumers to take charge of their own daily health choices, we will live in a much more active and healthy world.

Aim: To provide designers with emotion based tools to create products that promote positive behaviour change towards physical activity uptake.

1. Analyse the current methods and tools used within Design for Emotion and Design for Behaviour Change.
2. Understand the actions and emotions that lead people to take part in physical activity and what factors encourage and/or discourage them for making the same decisions again to
identify where the best point of intervention is in their daily routine.
3. Understand the knock on effects physical activity uptake has on general well-being, including healthy nutritional choices.
4. Develop a set of guidelines and tools that will form a framework for 'Design for Individual Health', giving designers the knowledge they need to design products that help user's
become healthier versions of themselves.
5. Test the proposed framework using case studies to provide examples of how "Designing for Individual Health" can be used to create behaviour change products that help users make
and cement healthy choices in their everyday lives.
6. Document the case study findings and results of the research in a detailed thesis, including a summary of all research findings and conclusions as well as a plan of future work to advance and integrate Design for Individual Health.

The research that has taken place so far make obvious a key knowledge gap along with assertions that the PhD research will aim to prove.

Knowledge Gap:
Physical activity levels are dangerously low and current health and fitness products (i.e. activity trackers) are not helping people cement life-long changes towards PA or having a positive effect on consumer health and happiness. A combination of Emotional Design and Design for Behaviour Change will be used, for the first time, to create consumer products that support PA uptake which will result in further healthy decisions and positive emotions. The knowledge gap will be filled by Design for Individual Health.

- Behaviour change techniques can be used to help create positive emotions. These emotions can be linked to decisions that promote positive behaviour change towards individual health such as an increase in physical activity (PA) levels.
- Healthy decision making (including increasing PA levels) can result in positive emotions such as happiness. Health = Happiness.
- Products for use by a single person can encourage positive behaviour change surrounding individual health - they can help people take charge of their daily health decisions.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509486/1 01/10/2016 31/03/2022
2024635 Studentship EP/N509486/1 30/09/2017 30/09/2021 Stephanie Frances Hewitt