My PhD

Design with Intent cards

Dan Lockton: Design with Intent: A design pattern toolkit for environmental & social behaviour change

2007-13, Brunel Design Research Centre, Brunel University, London
Supervisors: Professor David Harrison, Brunel University and Professor Neville Stanton, University of Southampton.

Download the thesis (PDF, 14MB)

Abstract: This thesis describes a systematic research enquiry into influencing more sustainable behaviour through design, which has produced communicable new knowledge in the form of a design pattern toolkit, called Design with Intent, developed and evaluated through an action research process. (continued below)

I was a full-time PhD student from September 2007 to August 2010, funded by the Ormsby Trust and Thomas Gerald Gray Charitable Trust, and part-time from September 2010 to June 2013 alongside working for Brunel University, University of Warwick and the Royal College of Art.

Papers

The best two papers arising from the thesis to get a summary of the work are:

Other aspects are explored in:

…and a range of other conference and working papers.

I have put together a brief reader’s guide to the thesis.

There are quite a few publications arising from the PhD, which are listed (and linked where possible) here. My publications list needs a bit of reconfiguring to make it easier to understand, which I’l try to do as soon as possible. There are also a few presentations on Slideshare which also provide an introduction to the PhD.

My thanks go to everyone who helped along the way, including the readers and commenters on this blog: I wouldn’t have started it without you, and really couldn’t have completed it without you. Inevitably, however, I will have forgotten some people in the Acknowledgements, and I apologise for this.

Office window, Howell Building, Brunel University
The office window at Brunel, for a large part of my PhD.

Abstract: This thesis describes a systematic research enquiry into influencing more sustainable behaviour through design, which has produced communicable new knowledge in the form of a design pattern toolkit, called Design with Intent, developed and evaluated through an action research process.

The toolkit aims to help designers create products, services and environments which influence the way people use them, primarily for environmental and social benefit; it brings together techniques for understanding and changing human behaviour from a range of psychological and technical disciplines, illustrated with examples, with the aim of enabling designers to explore and apply relevant strategies to problems.

‘Design for behaviour change’ has grown significantly as a field in the past few years, to a large extent due to recognition of the contributions that user behaviour makes to the environmental and social impact of technology and designed systems in general. People’s behaviour is inevitably influenced by the design of the systems which they use, and it is not a great leap to consider that design could be used intentionally to influence behaviour where some benefit would result.

This thesis starts by identifying the need for a guide for designers working on behaviour change. It extracts insights from reviews of perspectives on influencing behaviour from different disciplines, inside and outside of ‘design’, which could be usefully applied in a design context. Through an action research process of iterative development and workshops with design practitioners and students, these insights are incorporated into a toolkit for designers, which is applied mainly to environmental and social behaviour change briefs. Versions of the toolkit are made publicly available, and feedback from early users in different contexts is analysed and implications for continuing development discussed.

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Dr Dan Lockton