Attitudes, Meaning, Emotion and Motivation in Design for Behaviour Change

15 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2012

Date Written: August 1, 2012


This paper discusses some distinct -- but related -- psychological concepts which are relevant to design for behaviour change, but of which some, at least, are not necessarily within the scope of 'conventional' interaction design. They may fall superficially along the cognitive blade of Simon's scissors (1990), dealing with users' thought processes rather than the contextual interaction environment itself, but the interaction of meaning and form demonstrated by product semantics (section 2.1) makes it clear that cognition depends on context: the scissors must work together.

While design for emotion (Desmet and Hekkert, 2009) is enjoying increasing attention and practical application, including in behaviour change applications (e.g. Visser et al, 2011), influencing and supporting motivation through design is underexplored except by a few pioneers such as Bisset (2010), while the complexity of work on attitudes and persuasion has not necessarily lent itself to practical design applications to the extent that it might. Nevertheless, much public discourse on behaviour change persists with a preoccupation with measuring and 'changing' attitudes.

Suggested Citation

Lockton, Dan, Attitudes, Meaning, Emotion and Motivation in Design for Behaviour Change (August 1, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Dan Lockton (Contact Author)

Royal College of Art ( email )

Kensington Gore
London, SW7 2EU
United Kingdom

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