Leveraging Personas for Social Impact: A Review of Their Applications to Social Good in Design

Kathleen W. Guan*, Joni Salminen, Soon Gyo Jung, Bernard J. Jansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Personas inform design by representing diverse user needs. Since their initial application in commercial technology contexts, personas have been adopted in several research domains for public good, such as health, accessibility, politics and civic society, education, sustainability, cybersecurity, and criminology. In this review paper, we analyzed 58 research studies that created personas in these domains, referred to as Personas for Social Good (PFSG). In most studies, PFSG was primarily exploratory and focused on initial methodology development. More than half (59%) neglected to discuss concerns with stereotyping or evaluate how personas contributed to improving social concerns in their respective domains. To facilitate a shift towards more socially conscious persona applications, we identified and critically examined the most comprehensive PFSG domain applications in our sample. Based on their strengths, we present an ecological framework to guide researchers in holistically aligning persona creation efforts with addressing critical social challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Personas
  • social good
  • sustainable development goals


Dive into the research topics of 'Leveraging Personas for Social Impact: A Review of Their Applications to Social Good in Design'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this