Measuring Product-Related Stigma in Design

Kristof Vaes, Pieter Jan Stappers, Achiel Standaert

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

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Abstract: Many medical and assistive devices are experienced as unpleasant and uncomfortable. On top of their discomfort, product users may also experience social
unease. We label this process “product-related stigma” (PRS). This paper presents two measuring techniques that aim to objectively assess the
‘degree’ of PRS that is ‘attached’ to products. Both experiments focus on the behavioral deviations in the walking path of passers-by during a public and
unprepared encounter with a user of a stigma-sensitive product (dust mask). The ‘Dyadic Distance Experiment’ measures exact interpersonal distances, whereas
the ‘Stain Dilemma Experiment’ presents the passer-by with a choice in his walking path.

Both experimental techniques are predominantly suited as comparison tools, able to compare products on their PRS-eliciting potential.
Designers and developers can use these results to justify design decisions with quantitative data, to assess which product properties have influenced certain
reactions, and to what extent subsequent improvements have been successful.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of DRS 2016
Subtitle of host publicationDesign + Research + Society Future, Future-Focused Thinking
EditorsPeter Lloyd, Erik Bohemia
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherThe Design Research Society
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventDRS 2016: Design + Research + Society, Future-Focused Thinking, The 50th Anniversary DRS Conference - Brighton, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Jun 201630 Jun 2016

Publication series

NameDRS International Conference Series
PublisherThe Design Society
ISSN (Electronic)2398-3132


ConferenceDRS 2016
CountryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Product Semantics
  • Design for health
  • Design and Emotion
  • Inclusive Design


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