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Me We


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Me We

  1. 1. The MeWe Project The Experience Design Model of Improving Intimacy in Couple Relationships: An Emotional Disclosure, Listening & Exploration Approach Rahul Pramanik MA Design Studies 09
  2. 2. the quest/ion... The need to establish and maintain close relationships and connections with others is a central and fundamental human motivation as well being a source of true happiness. Most individuals see intimate relationships like marriage as the most intimate relationship they experience and that serves as their primary source of affection and support. In light of the pervasive migration and globalization that characterize modern existence, it is important to examine the nature and outcomes of close relationships which seem to be changing & disintegrating in meaning and value in this ‘liquid society’. Design on the other side with all its influencing power has been infamous for having a huge preference for all things commercial and not often charting people’s well being route. It is this unique combination that was addressed through my thesis question “What if relationships could be designed to improve?” with the focus on bringing design to answer more real human needs and wants (and yet stay profitable?). A more focussed question through desk research: Q. How can consciously designing the experiences of a couple lead to improving/enhancing the key builders of intimate relationships? Keywords: Experience design / Everday rituals / Improving key builders of relationships “Whatever the approach, I think it is important to improve our data based understanding of intimate relationships. For while many seek love and closeness, they often do not know how to find it or how to hold it once it seems in their grasp.” (Levinger, 1977b p.157)
  3. 3. why feelings and listening... I conducted qualitative interviews with couples enquiring their daily experiences to find things like “what comprised of their positive and negative experiences?”,”What made some of their experiences so special/worse?” etc. Upon making an experience map of negative experiences, I found a golden thread that was running across these relationships i.e. a lot of these negative experiences were a result of unspoken & unheard feelings between the partners and vice versa. Seeming something that could be widely applicable and beneficial, the area of feelings and emotions was chosen as a direction forward. “the zone of comfort” + = “the pressure to perform” “the elephant under the table” i.e. Unspoken/Unheard Feelings “preoccupiedness” “controlling behaviour”
  4. 4. evidence supporting the vision... Upon further research, the acute need for working on this domain was clearly evidenced in the following facts: * Emotional intimacy is one of the most important factors of relationship satisfaction and overall happiness and well being. * Emotional intimacy is the single biggest problem for couples to go for relationship therapy / marriage counselling. * There are many couples out there who although facing problems do not go for counseling in apprehension of bringing a 3rd person into their relationship. * Most of the self help tools available like books / workshops are either too simple and lack novelty to keep the couples from using it time and again or are too overwhelming for them to integrate into their daily life experiences. Some examples of the boring, unreliable and overwhelming methods in couple relationship enhancement programs or “DVD programs” “Workshops” “Quizzes” “Articles”
  5. 5. empirical testing (phase 1)... With all the previous research and evidence gathered, I envisaged designing a everyday based experiential tool that improved the experience of expressing and listening to feelings between the members of the couple. The idea was to create a periodic stream of feeling expressions from both partners by getting them to express in the tool throughout the day (tacking unspoken feelings) and archiving it for them to revisit it later for a exploratory discussion ritual (tackling unheard feelings). Together done, this experience would enhance and foster self disclosure (i.e. intimate expressions of the self) and partner responsiveness (i.e partner listening and validation), the two key components that improve Emotional Intimacy. I did the first round of qualitative empirical testing by creating three prototypes that constituted a crude version of the abovementioned experience. The tools were in three different mediums i.e. the MeWe Diary, MeWe T-shirt & MeWe twitter covering a broad range of relationships(read below for more about how each tool worked). The primary objectives were to i. If my hypothesis was valid or not ii. How the mediums would impact the experience? & iii. If true, how could it be even better designed? “MeWe Diary” Both the diary and twitter were 7 day experiments. Each or “MeWe T-Shirt” The T-shirt was a 1 day experiment for couples who didn’t live together/who couldn’t commit to the 7 day experiment. Each partner was given to wear a white t-shirt and asked to member of the couple was given one private diary/twitter express themselves on each other’s tshirt backs every 2 account each and asked to express themselves in it every 3 hours by answering the same questions. At the end of the hours by answering 3 questions: What are you doing? How day, the couple would exchange their t-shirts to go through are you feeling? & What makes you feel this way? At the end each other’s feelings and have a small discussion about it. of the day, the couple would engage in an exploratory ritual where they would exchange their tools and go through each other’s feelings and have a small discussion about it. “MeWe Twitter”
  6. 6. what they said... “ Professional feedback before testing: “I am blown away by your ideas. I think they are brilliant. I also think they will be fun and helpful for couples. Keep me in the know as your project progresses.” Judith Verity, couples therapist RELATE UK (Over 20 years exp) “I think you've got some really interesting ideas and they're definitely worth trying out with several couples to see how they respond to them. I like your notion of periodically sharing feelings through a diary or Twitter, and I think you should try it out. I'm dubious about the T-shirt version because it would be so public that people might easily be Dr. George Levinger, Professor of psychology, embarrassed. Your designs look good but the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Univ. of Massachusetts “You've taken-on a deep, complex subject for your exploration. There are so many elements at work in such an investigation. However, no matter the complexities, this is a critically important area.” Nathan Shedroff Experience Strategist Author, Experience Design
  7. 7. what really happened... The results were optimistically constructive! It confirmed that the basis of my hypothesis was correct. In addition it helped narrow down my target group, highlighted the important factors which make the experience enjoyable and doable & most importantly, it pointed to the need for redesigning the explore + experience as the couple’s didn’t seem to quite understand how to explore apart from the obvious going through each other technique. 75% of the couples acknowledged that ve there was a noticeable improvement in “I was really happy with the experience because it involved both of us. I have always been good at expressing my feelings to him their self disclosure/ listening levels of but he isn't as open and I always dug out stuff from him. It was their own and each others feelings. great to see him put in a similar effort.” “We came to know things that our partner thought we were taking for granted “It taught me to be more listening and and we intend to work upon them to improve it. We should do this much more considerate of how my partners feeling as he often as it has helped us listen to each other intimately.” sometimes doesn't express how he is truly feeling.” “Unexpectedly interesting! I feel freer to express my love!” Shots of the MeWe Diary and MeWe T-Shirts showing random positive (left) and negative feelings (right) entered by the participants. - ve reminder at that time.” “ We did try and do the end of day interaction but did not know what to do much about it.” “ I would have liked to draw or record my voice. A “ I felt like expressing at certain times of the day and wish there was a picture lasts much longer than words.” “We have been together for over 10 years. We were already in touch with each others feelings and didnt come to know anything new.”
  8. 8. what they say now... “ The professionals too upon validating the idea of the tool asked to explore further by : i. redesigning the explore experience, making it simple and reworking some core methods of the experience. “I think you are doing a very creative and responsible job, specially for someone with little previous experience. One one hand I am impressed with your cleverness and dilligence, one the other your results still have some ambiguity. As you pointed out, the key issue for me is if you can encourage feeling Dr. George Levinger, Professor of psychology, disclosure and will it bring about understanding and validation, and thus lead to Univ. of Massachusetts more feeling disclosure (which is MUTUAL, not just one=directional)??” “The couples tool(s) - express & explore - sound very interesting, and it's nice to see that you're already getting good results in the field from it. To generalize the tool to be something someone could take part in very easily - i.e make it easy to Mark Hurst get started, make it extra-simple & make it easy to participate in.” Experience consultant “Is there a suggested framework that the couples get given for the exploration part? this could give discussion prompts and a general outline of how this part might go. or perhaps you could do one session with them so they know how to Emma IP, continue for the rest of the week.more mediums for expression to allow greater Psychology student, creativity and 'fun'.” Emotion regulation
  9. 9. the redesigned experience (empirical testing phase 2)... The prototype was redesigned with the gained insights from the first round of field testing. With a new user interface, portability & a better framework, the new MeWe experience was aimed to be more easy, interactive, guided and a meaningful experience. It was tested on a diverse mix of couples and included some couples from the previous experiment to get their take as well on the difference they felt. The express board is where the couples would post their feeling post-its together during the end of day ritual. The board provided a visual framework in that it had been categorized into days of the week and type of feeling which would provide the couple a good way of looking at all their feelings more objectively and observe exploratory things about their feelings. “Express board” 2 1 The explore board provided them a set of questions to hint at the possibilities of discovering new things about each other from exploring their feelings. It also acted as a catalyst for the couples to make their own questions & explore their own emotional territories. 3 “express pad” The express pads (custom designed post its) were brought in to encourage portability & ease of use. The couples could carry it along and enter their feelings periodically without worrying about connectivity, weight of diary, embarrassment of t-shirt etc. The format was kept open i.e. even though the questions are written at the top left, the dialog box would “exlplore board” make the person feel free to express whatever they wish to.
  10. 10. what happened this time... The results have been extremely positive this time around. Couples from the previous experiment not only felt that the experience was much more integrated and useful but yet kept the required interactiveness and novelty. Couples doing it the first time experienced a rise in most of the factors of the intimacy process i.e. increased self disclosure and increased listening to their partner’s feelings making them feel more connected and intimate to each other. As most of these couples didn’t have any problems prior to testing, it can be said that the tool benefits most couples and there is scope of imporovement in most relationships.These results were measured using two scientific scales (Dr. Dennis Bagarozzi’s - Intimacy Needs Survey & Dr.John Gottman’s - Love Map + questionnaire). “I found this experience much more fun and comfortable as it ve 95% of the couples recorded a rise in the gave me both the privacy and togetherness in the amounts core components of their emotional that I required. Even though we are open books to each other, intimacy like higher self disclosure, higher I still came to know many little things that matter to him a lot listening, responsiveness etc.. and have an influence on him. Very useful.” “I’ve got a better understanding of my own feelings and a couple of things have been ironed out and cleared up. Was interesting going through the feelings at the end of the day and discovering fun things. Should make more time for this. 100% of the couples would like to do this “This has definitely been good for us and very good for me, I have learnt experience daily. a lot about myself and others, the way he thinks about me. Has given us a reason to talk about each other without having a reason to...” “ Some of the things my partner said she liked about me were not “I enjoyed and found it very interesting what he wrote in - obvious and forgotten. This was special to hear about.” some sections as he opened up and I got to hear things I usually don’t.” ve “Would have been better if I could express Shots of some happy couples shown along when I felt like rather than the 3 hour timeline.” with their express and e x p l o r e boards. “More mediums of expression would be great and even more fun while exploring”
  11. 11. the big picture (MeWe 2.0)... As mentioned before, all these prototype field testings were for giving an idea of the final shape and structure of the tool i.e. what should it be like? what medium should it use? what kind of environment is required for the experience to work best and many more important questions were answered. On the basis of the evidence gathered from the testing, I have designed the final tool that takes all the necessary factors into consideration and iron’s out negative ones encountered previously. MeWe 2.0 - The online communication tool for couples that when being used by the partners on a day to day basis provides the required experience to enhance/improve their emotional intimacy. The online medium has been chosen for its accessability, ease of use and integration with people’s life these days all of which had been rated as very important factors to make the experience enjoyable in the field testing. As well, this is an era where we take the internet seriously and we are starting to make an emotional connection with successful ones and therefore it suited to be the medium of my tool very well. Essentially, It would comprise of two modules namely: Express and Explore serving a joined up experience yet offering its own uniquet benefits. Express - This module encourages partners to frequently express their feelings (mundane or intimate all the same) into the tool via any medium they feel like. Once the expressions start coming in, MeWe keeps archiving them based on various parameters (details on next pages). Explore - This is where the exciting 2nd part begins. This module provides the couple with a interactive platform and several different criterions based on which they can explore their feelings in a bid to learn things about themselves and each other be it new or old (detailed working in next few pages). The many ways in which the tool may benefit couples are as following: Express_ i. Encouraging more revealing and intimate self disclosures from the partners due to periodic expressions and the nature of feelings. ii.Being more in touch and aware of one's own feelings (metaphoric listening) through the therapeutic effects of expression. ii.Learning to understand one's emotional terrain and how it is affected by things around them (pin pointing sources of positive, negative and neutral feelings). Explore_ i. Encourage more partner responsiveness (literal listening) and better communication whilst going through each other's feeling entries and discussing them. ii.Helping them to understand their partner better by being more in touch with their emotions and how it is affected by things around. iii.Giving a sense of the character of their relationship (pin pointing sources of positive & negative feelings within the relationship) and how is it headed. iv.Preserving the relationship in space and time by life streaming their bits of individual and shared experiences. But most Importantly, it gives the couple the possibility a fun and useful way to analyse and work on their own relationship by being their own 'armchair counsellors" as the philosophy of this experience is quite similar to couple's therapy where frequent "revealing self disclosures” by the speakers (partners) in presence of a listener(counsellor) who provides empathy, support and validation is used as a common method of understanding the problems better, with the unique difference being that in this case both the speaker and listener are real life partners giving them the much required privacy and comfort.
  12. 12. Express (approximate visualization)... How do you feel and why do you feel so? is answered by each partner any number of times through the day as the partner's use the tool to express themselves. They could use several different mediums to express how they feel. For ex. text, image & text, audio, video etc. Essentially the feelings that each partner expresses would only be viewable by his/her partner on a shared space but if the partner wishes he could share a feeler (any particular feeling) with his/her friends (as some memories are associated with friends, it might be worth sharing). When they express, they select either it is a positive/negative feeling by selecting either + or -. Moodometer (TM) - The moodometer at the top is for giving the partners a quick glance into their partner’s overall mood without having to look at any of the feelings. It comprises of the profile pic that shows a happy face pic if the person is feeling happy or sad pic if they are feeling negative & the intensity bar which shows the intensity of the feeling. The darker it is, the stronger the emotion. The overall mood is found out by calculating the total number of positive and negative feelings and their respective intensities. Replies - The partners can view and reply to their partner’s feelings in real time encouraging more partner listening and responsiveness. Express bar - The express bar is where the partner’s express themselves by answering how they are feeling. They could do it by using any medium they feel like. A snapshot of how an actual feeling would look like. The pic besides the actual feeling would indicate the mood of the particular feeling. In essence a feeling loaded expression is much different and useful for partner’s to know about each other rather than what am I doing? which b a s i ca l l y o n l y e n co u ra ge s tangible actions and thoughts to be discussed.
  13. 13. Explore (criterions)... As the feelings would keep getting collected in the tool with regular usage, it would act as an archive of their feelings and thus a general state of their relationship. The couple would then be able to explore these feelings based on several different fun and useful criterions making them counsellors of their own relationships. The aim of this part of the tool is act as a reflection of what's on their hearts and minds and keep changing as they grow and change. 1 timeline This criterion would allow the couple to view all the feelings relayed on a time- Monthview - This view of the timeline line showing exactly what and when shows all the feelings of both the each feeling was felt through time by partners in any particular month. As it is both partners in the exact sequence a zoomed out view, the contents of the entered. The purpose of this criterion feeling are not viewable at once but the would be to let the partners go back in boxes are color coded to differentiate time to see how they felt at different between the type of feeling points of time. Quite useful to keep the (positive/negative) and the media used memories fresh in their minds. This to express the feeling (text, image, particular way of exploring may be video) which can tell the partners a lot of fancied by couples who like a certain things at a glance like “How has the order in their lives. month been for them?” or “How does a weekend impact them?” or “What moments cause different feelings in both of them? and many more. For ex. the diagram indicates that October has been essentially very positive for the guy but only the later half has been good for the girl. Once clicked on any box, it expands and shows the particular feeling in full length with image/video/audio if available. The timeline can also be viewed in week and day views. Color code - The green, orange and yellow signify text, image and video feelings. The intensity of the color indicates whether it is a positive or negative feeling. Brighter tones indicate high intensity positive feelings and dull tones indicate high intensity Flip over - A book like flipover interface negative feelings. makes it easy to navigate between different months, weeks or days.
  14. 14. Explore (criterions)... 2 Random True to its nature, this criterion brings total randomness to the exploration Overview - This view of the timeline process and is exactly opposite in nature shows all the feelings of both the to the first criterion. In this criterion, all partners of the last couple of days or feelings from both the partners in the weeks depending upon the usage. The last couple of days would be displayed in contents of the feeling are not viewable on the screen in a random changing at once but the boxes are color coded to o rd e r m o v i n g a ro u n d i n to ta l differentiate between the type of feeling randomness in an attempt to show the (positive/negative) and the media used myriad feelings a person goes through in to express the feeling (text, image, their chaotic day to day lives. The aim of video). Once clicked on any box, it this criterion would be to give a random expands and shows the particular fun interface to interact with for both feeling in full length with partners in place of the orderly timeline image/video/audio if available. Each for couples who like spontaneity. time the criterion is explored, it will throw up feelings from random periods of time or move in random manner making it a very unpredictable and interesting way to explore for the partners each time. Color code - The green, orange and yellow signify text, image and video feelings. The intensity of the color indicates whether it is a positive or negative feeling. Brighter tones indicate high intensity positive feelings and dull tones indicate high intensity negative feelings.
  15. 15. Explore (criterions)... 3 Mirror This criterion would be used by the couples to explore: i.What are their most common to the most salient feelings? ii.What do those feelings look like? for ex.What does a happy moment look like? or What does feeling insecure look like? etc. This would be useful in giving a objective and more deeper view of the source of various feelings to the couple as they come to know themselves and their partners better.. Mirror Mirror : Happiness Overview - Upon clicking on this criterion, the partners will be shown the As soon as the partner clicks on any of the feelings on the previous screen first screen of 6 x 6 boxes (or more) giving them a glimpse of their most (for ex happy), the various adjectives disappear to make way for all the common to the most salient feelings. This would be calculated happy feelings expressed by both partners. The screen turns into a big automatically by the MeWe tool by counting the number of times a mirror showing all the texts, images & video feelings which have happy particular feeling is expressed and its intensity. So the top left box denotes feelings associated with it showing the partners what does happiness look the most common feeling and the bottom right the most salient one. But like for them specifically and not some world wide view giving it a very the exploration doesn’t end their. So if the partner feels like exploring intimate feel. The tool calculates this by searching and filtering feelings “What does happiness look like?” he/she clicks on the happy box and is which had happy adjectives in it while expressing. Color code and intensity taken on to the next screen (view next paragraph). shows the type of feeling and the media used to express.
  16. 16. Explore (criterions)... 4 WWW (where were we) Location plays a very important role in how we feel. Sometimes a job change, house shifting, oversees trip etc can play havoc with our feelings and this criterion aims to explore this affect of location. The criterion would let the couples see where each partner was when they expressed any particular feeling. The feelings are not relayed altogether like in timeline or random. Rather they show up one at a time with a mapped backdrop at a speed at which the partners would like to see. Overview - Upon clicking this criterion the partners will be taken to this screen where the backdrop would be a map of the city in which the This screen shows how the cross fading happens and one feeling makes partner’s live and after they chose the time period they want to explore, way for the others. the feelings start appearing one by one at the places where they originated. So for ex. in the first page, we see the guy having expressed a particular feeling while returning home from office in stamford.
  17. 17. Explore (criterions)... 5 Love Maps Dr. John Gottman describes love maps as a section of our brains which contain and store every piece of information (intimate and otherwise) about our partners. The most enriching phase for love maps is the honeymoon period or getting-to-know-each other phase where we try and find out as much as we can about each other and make a broad and deep love maps of our partners. Many life events can cause couples to lose their way from keeping their love maps updated. Any major change from having a baby, to a job shift to a move to retirement – can have the same effect. Just the passage of time can do that as well. well. The more you know and understand about each other, the easier it is to keep connected as life swirls around you. This criterion is aimed at enhancing these “love maps” of each partner to keep them updated in each others world emotional and otherwise. Apart from expressing their general feelings on a periodic basis, the partners can also chose to ask love map questions to their partners as and when they like. These questions can be either chosen from the inbuilt list or custom designed. This criterion comes alive only when the couple start answering the love map questions about themselves and they would keep getting sorted into the appropriate category for ex. if a partner answered a question “what was your favourite holiday before we met?, it would be found under the Who Am I - Favourites section. The partner who had asked the question can later view the answer in by interacting with the love map criterion. This is useful as things like these are always only in the head and bringing them into visual form can help aid the process of updating. Love Maps : Peter Love Maps : Peter : Who am I Love Maps : Peter : Who am I : Favourites Overview - A metaphor of solar system is used to present the concept of When the favourites sub planet is clicked, as there aren’t any sub planets each partner’s worlds. As the partners click on the love maps criterion, for this planet, it simply zooms into the screen in full size and all the they are brought to this screen with two similar solar systems (the guy and answers that fall under his favourite category like favourite books, food, the girls; only one is shown here for convenience). The three sub planets holidays, movies, songs etc are shown on the big globe making a big As the Who Am I sub planet is clicked, it comes into the forefront and revolving around the guy are called “Who Am I” which consists of all things personal world map of favourites. becomes the central planet and the sub planets of this planet start that define him like interests, favourites, friends/family etc, “What I Want” As like the other criterions, this is a good one to keep coming back once in a revolving around it. for ex. in this case (likes, favourites,friends). So upon which consists of all things that he aspires for like hopes, dreams, while to have a look at each others love maps and see if there is anything to clicking on the Favourites sub planet the partner is taken to the next screen ambitions etc and “My Emotional World” which show his emotional world update. (continued in next paragraph). like triumphs, injuries, legacy etc. As he keeps answering questions about himself, they keep getting sorted into the right category for ex. favourite holiday as mentioned above would go under Who Am I -> Favourites. So upon clicking on the Who Am I sub planet in the first screen, the partner is taken to the next screen (continued in next paragraph).
  18. 18. Explore (criterions)... 5 Remote Control This criterion takes all the powers of exploration and user experience and puts it in the hands of the user in that it allows the couples a controlled view off all the feelings based on any choice and number of parameters like Date, Time, Gender, Friends & Family. This is used to give the user the freedom to chart their own explorations and not be restricted by the preset criterions making it a tool that not only can serve the Do It Yourself generation but also the Get Something Done generation. 1. Date & Time – would classify and show all the feelings of the selected date. Can be used to find how it was like on a special day like birthdays, aniverseries etc or even to see the difference a weekend creates on their feelings compared to the weekdays. 2. Gender – Would classify the feelings based on the gender. 3. Friends and family – Would classify all the feelings involving friends and family including the shared ones. 4. Media – This would filter all the feelings based on the kind of media in it for ex. Text, image, video, audio Example : If peter wishes to see, how was kristel feeling on the 16th of November which have photos in it, he would click on kristel, date and photos and the tool would then filter the feelings based on these parameters and show them on the screen. Example - If both peter and kristel wish to see feelings on the 31st of December which involve friends and family and have videos in it, they select these three options and the tool would then be able to show them those feelings.
  19. 19. the next steps... Speaking with various relationship counselling organizations to endorse this experiential tool. To collaborate with relevant brands and organizations (Relationship Counselling Agencies, Social well being charities, brands dealing with relationships literally or metaphorically like nokia, facebook etc) as a reputation building measure for MeWe and the development of the final tool. To make a business plan of how it would be financially relevant. To create a marketing campaign and launch of final website. the big if... If the project wins and becomes a reality, there is a lot of possible social benefit in that people using this service as a part of their daily life would benefit from it in their relational lives & well being by improved expressing and listening. Personally for me, it would be also mean the start of a successful project under my experience design firm that I plan to open after my MA and would help me to approach and get more work based on the results of this one.
  20. 20. The MeWe Project The Experience Design Model of Improving Intimacy in Couple Relationships: An Emotional Disclosure, Listening & Exploration Approach Rahul Pramanik MA Design Studies 09