How People Feel & Think: Design, Emotion, Worldview& Openness

Thien Le
3 min readOct 10, 2021

Thien Le and Riya Bobde

Before being introduced to the contents of “How People Work”, we had only a faint idea of what would be discussed. However, in only a month, we have already covered so many topics from human factors and ethics, to inclusivity and social justice. As growing designers, learning about these ideas can be overwhelming, as initially it can be difficult to figure out where to start in trying to solve all these issues, however through working on assignments and listening to professional designers, we have a better understanding of how to apply these learnings into our current and future work.

One of the main themes that has been prevalent throughout the lectures is the concept of a worldview. As designers, we have a responsibility to be hyper aware of our own worldviews, so that we are mindful of how our biases can impact our designs. Both of us come from high tech and larger cities, San Francisco and Houston, which has shaped our worldviews in a certain way because we are used to having easy access to certain technologies and programs that many people around the country and world do not. While this could be a benefit, it has also proved to be a detriment when designers are not aware of the worldviews and paradigms that their users are living in. One example is when western designers decided to implement European style houses and neighborhoods in Asia, even though the locals do not appreciate that type of architecture. Because it was not what they needed, the design ended up being a failure.

We’ve learned that designers have the ability and responsibility to tell stories that connect with people and that having empathy for others plays a large role in being able to communicate those stories through visual, physical, or digital means. We have the ability to assign meaning to design that dictates the values that are then placed onto society. A large part of this also includes understanding the evolutionary nature of human emotion and that people cannot be happy all the time. Jonathan Chapman’s lecture was very interesting because it gave us a different perspective on human emotion than what we had already been hearing. He discussed the importance of creating an experience for the users, whether it’s good or bad, and emphasized that simply trying to make users happy shouldn’t be our only goal as designers.

Overall, learning about designing for humans and social justice empowers us to want to learn more about participatory design because we have the privilege of not having issues at the heart of social justice, such as poverty, violence, or access to infrastructure and services, be at the forefront of our minds. Learning how to approach design for different worldviews, especially for communities whose lives, practices, and experiences may be unfamiliar to us is a way that we can use this privilege for good and it is a skill that we hope to get the opportunity to put into practice in our future works.

A meme articulating how affordances can be difficult to decipher and choose between.