Thick psychophysiology for empathic design Elliott Bruce Hedma

Over the course of six years, I brought ambulatory psychophysiology into a variety of industries as a means of conducting design research. I looked at the stress of children in occupational therapy, the frustration of playing Hasbro board games, the thrill of driving a Google Self Driving Car, the confidence of shopping at Best Buy and Lowes, the excitement of playing LEGO Technic for the first time, the tension of watching one’s first symphony, and the anxiety of talking about birth control. Working with stake holders within these settings I developed “Thick Psychophysiology,” defined by four characteristics:

1. Psychophysiological data is quantitatively measured,

2. The research answers explorative, open ended questions,

3. The research measures external context, and 4. The research measures internal context.

By combining ethnographic methods with psychophysiology, researchers can address the challenges of specificity that ambulatory, explorative research produces. Two case studies of preliminary design research are provided about the LEGO Group and the New World Symphony, showcasing how thick psychophysiology can help uncover customer’s unarticulated needs.

Once needs are uncovered, the challenge is how to motivate an organization to address those needs