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Designing interactive systems to encourage empathy between users

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNConference contribution/Paperpeer-review

  • Paul Coulton
  • Jonny Huck
  • Andrew Hudson-Smith
  • Barthel Ralph
  • Panagiotis Mavros
  • Jennifer Roberts
  • Phillip Powell


An oft-cited criticism of our increasingly online world is that text based communications still dominate, offering limited opportunity for the development of empathy between users and possibly encouraging more critical and confrontational interactions. Whilst there are a wide range of design methods that enable designers to develop empathy for the potential users of their products or services, there are none aimed at helping designers to create systems that actively encourage the development of empathy between those users. In this research we discuss why we believe there is a need to design systems that facilitate empathy and how designers may approach such a challenge, using the example of a digital prayer candle system developed with a church community.