• A cybernetic service design approach for taming persuasive service systems: Reflective case studies for design practice

Borgefalk, Gustav, 2021, Thesis, A cybernetic service design approach for taming persuasive service systems: Reflective case studies for design practice PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This research concerns the design of a cybernetic service design approach for design of persuasive service systems. Through substantial reflective practice and two case studies, I have taken steps towards a service design approach that can be used by owners, managers, designers and regulators to understand how to better tame services which behave as persuasive systems, i.e., service systems which are designed with the intent to influence people’s behaviours or attitudes.

In this thesis, I propose design cybernetics as a language for the design of services as persuasive systems. To develop the approach, I have engaged in substantial reflective practice and participated in two live service design projects, to arrive at insights leading to new theory and practices. I have gained new knowledge of how design cybernetics can be applied in different service design contexts and gained an understanding of how it, in theory, can support more ethical design practice. In the reflective practice, to develop new personal knowledge, I developed a set of cyber-physical boundary objects. In the service design projects, I engaged with Friends, an anti-bullying organisation, and with Planethon, a company focusing on planet-centric business development.

The practice-led design research methodology builds on a pragmatic-constructivist knowledge claim. I use an action research approach combined with reflective design practice to arrive at a design cybernetic praxeology; a way service designers can act cybernetically. The empirical research consists of two streams: conversations with the self (reflective practice) and conversations with others (case studies). The two streams have informed each other and, in the nexus, new communicable knowledge has been created in an emergent process.

The research suggests that there are merits to using design cybernetics in the design of persuasive systems. It is useful to provoke reflections on meta-design of services and it can also be used to describe endogenous design governance. Design cybernetics offers a rich conceptual world that can help service designers to better understand what service design is and does in the context of persuasive systems. I propose that designing cybernetically, with a conversational approach to service design, is a way to reach a more intuitive understanding of challenges pertaining to persuasive systems. By learning to use a design cybernetic approach, designers or those who commission design can become more conscious about second-order design aspects of services. This can be considered a significant contribution, given that cybernetics, since the reflexive turn to second-order cybernetics, has been struggling to find practical uses.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies
School or Centre: School of Design
Funders: Dr. Tech. Marcus Wallenberg Foundation for Education in International Industrial Entrepreneurship
Uncontrolled Keywords: Design cybernetics; persuasive systems; service design; reflective practice
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2022 12:25
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2022 12:25
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/4956
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