What is it about?

This study aims at validating the transferability of the Empathic Handover approach (Smeenk et al., 2017), which we originally developed for the co-design process of a dementia simulator. We argue that empathy in design is operationalized using five factors: emotional interest, sensitivity, self-awareness, personal experience, and mixed perspectives. This heuristic proved useful in systematically comparing the empathic capacity of design students using the Empathic Handover and traditional user research approaches. Our comparative study indicates that the Empathic Handover (EH) approach enables designers to develop empathy with vulnerable users they did not meet in person (both people with dementia and people who mourn). Additionally, the study enables us to develop an elaborate notion of the working mechanisms of empathy in design as well as practical improvements to the Empathic Handover approach

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Why is it important?

The five factors that foster empathy in design are valuable in developing and evaluating designers' empathic formation in design processes. Moreover, the practical Empathic Handover (EH) approach deliberately supports designers in taking a first-person perspective (Smeenk et al., 2016) and enables teams to work more efficiently and ethically responsible.


I belief that the designers' experiences, feelings and intuition are a rich information source and that this first-person perspective is necessary in empathizing with others designing for or with. This article also lead to a practical Empathic Formation (EF) compass (Smeenk et al., 2019) for designers which might be used by other social innovation change makers as well.

Professor Societal Impact Design Wina Smeenk

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: A systematic validation of the Empathic Handover approach guided by five factors that foster empathy in design, CoDesign, June 2018, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/15710882.2018.1484490.
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