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How Can We Measure Reactions to Product Designs?

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Abstract: Design researchers often use interviews and questionnaires to measure consumer response to products. This practice continues despite the inherent limitations of these “explicit” self-report methods. In experimental psychology, “implicit” reaction time tests have been developed in an attempt to overcome self-report biases and to obtain a more automatic measure of attitudes. These implicit methods are typically applied in studies of addictive or phobic responses to stimuli such as drugs or spiders. To determine whether implicit testing methods can also be used to provide a measure of consumer product preferences, we conducted a series of implicit user studies that measure people’s reactions to product images. We found that implicit methods can be used to distinguish how people respond to different products and that this measure can be a good predictor of product choice. These results support the idea that implicit measures could be employed during the design process to investigate how users respond to variations in product features and forms. In this talk, we will discuss how our experiments were designed, how the data was analysed, and the implications for using implicit methods as a design tool in the future.

About the speaker: Katrina Schoen graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2011 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. She is currently a research MPhil student in the EDC ’s Design Practice Group, supervised by Dr. Nathan Crilly.

This talk is part of the Engineering Design Centre series.

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