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ACTIO 4/2020

Está en: Revista ActioNúmerosACTIO 4/2020

Patrick W. Jordan

University of Middlesex

p.jordan@mdx.ac.uk

Andy Bardill

University of Middlesex

a.bardill@mdx.ac.uk

Kate Herd

University of Middlesex

k.herd@mdx.ac.uk

Silvia Grimaldi

London College of Communication

s.grimaldi@lcc.arts.ac.uk

ESP / ENG / FRA / ITA / POR

Narrativa e design per il benessere: uno sguardo centrato sull’utente

Riassunti

Le narrative che circondano le nostre vite possono incidere nel nostro benessere. I prodotti e i servizi che abbiamo giocano un ruolo nelle narrative (Jordan, Bardill, Herd y Grimaldi, 2020) – la macchina che porta lo slogan “sono una persona di successo”, il giocattolo “Sono un buon papá” oppure il servizio che fa sapere ai clienti “io non sono importante”. Uno studio di esplorazione fatto sulle percezioni di quarantuno studenti universitari descrive l’esperienza con due prodotti o servizi diversi, il primo con una narrativa desiderata e l’altro, invece, no. Gli ottantadue studi di casi si analizzano per esplorare concetti pertinenti per le narrative in riferimento all’uso dei prodotti e i servizi. Si sono identificati sei modi diversi in cui in prodotto oppure un servizio permette una narrativa specifica, abbiamo valutato gli archetipi di Jung come un modo adeguato per classificare i narrativi e abbiamo anche esplorato i ruoli dei prodotti e degli utenti per la creazione di racconti. Finalmente, se n’esplorano anche le implicazioni per la ricerca su utenti e design.

PAROLE CHIAVE: narrativa, benessere, design, ergonomia, design affettivo, design emozionale

Narrativa y diseño para el bienestar: un enfoque centrado en el usuario

Resumen

Las narrativas que tenemos acerca de nuestras vidas pueden afectar nuestro bienestar. Los productos y servicios que poseemos pueden desempeñar un papel en estas narrativas (Jordan, Bardill, Herd y Grimaldi, 2020) – el auto que dice "Soy exitoso ", el juguete que dice "Soy un buen padre" o el servicio al cliente que me deja saber que "Yo no soy importante.” En un estudio exploratorio, 41 estudiantes de pregrado describieron experiencias con dos productos o servicios diferentes – uno que permitía una narrativa deseada y otro que no la permitía. Estos 82 estudios de caso se analizaron para explorar conceptos pertinentes para la narrativa dentro del contexto del uso de productos y servicios. Identificamos seis maneras diferentes en las que un producto o servicio puede permitir una narrativa, evaluamos los arquetipos de Jung como una manera de clasificar narrativas, y exploramos los papeles de productos y usuarios para permitir relatos. Se exploran las implicaciones de lo anterior para la investigación sobre usuarios y diseño.

Palabras clave:

PALABRAS CLAVE: narrativa, bienestar, diseño, ergonomía, diseño afectivo, diseño emocional.

Narrative and Design for Wellbeing: A User-Centered Approach

Abstract

The narratives that we have about our lives can affect our wellbeing. The Products and services that we own or use can play a role in these narratives (Jordan, Bardill, Herd and Grimaldi, 2020) – the car that says "I am a success", the toy that says "I am a good parent" or the customer-care that lets me know that "I am not important.” In an exploratory study, 41 undergraduate students described experiences with two different products or services – one that enabled and one that failed to enable a desired narrative. These 82 case studies were analysed to explore concepts relevant to narrative in the context of product and service use. We identify six different ways in which a product or service can enable a narrative, evaluate Jung’s archetypes as a means of narrative classification, and explore the roles of products and users in enabling stories. The implications for user research and design are explored.

KEYWORDS: narrative, wellbeing, design, ergonomics, affective design, emotional design.

Récit et design pour le bien-être : une approche centrée sur l’utilisateur

Resumé

Les récits dont nous disposons sur nos vies peuvent affecter notre bien-être. Les produits et services que nous possédons peuvent jouer un rôle dans ces récits (Jordan, Bardill, Herd et Grimaldi, 2020) : la voiture qui dit “J’ai réussi socialement”, le jouet qui dit “Je suis un bon père”, ou le service à la clientèle qui me fait savoir que “Je ne suis pas important”. Dans une étude exploratoire, on a demandé à 41 étudiants du premier cycle universitaire de décrire des expériences avec deux produits ou services différents : l’un permettant un récit désiré, l’autre ne le permettant pas. On a analysé ces 82 études de cas pour explorer les concepts pertinents pour le récit dans le contexte de l’utilisation de produits et de services. On a identifié six façons différentes dont un produit ou un service peut permettre un récit ; on a évalué les archétypes de Jung comme un moyen de classer les récits ; puis on a exploré les rôles des produits et des utilisateurs pour permettre des histoires ; enfin, on a examiné les implications de ces résultats pour la recherche sur les utilisateurs et le design.

MOTS-CLÉS: récit, bien-être, design, ergonomie, design affectif, design émotionnel.

Narrativa e design para o bem-estar: uma abordagem centrada no usuário

Resumo

As nossas narrativas sobre nossas vidas podem afetar nosso bem-estar. Os produtos e serviços que possuímos podem ter um papel nestas narrativas (Jordan, Bardill, Herd e Grimaldi, 2020) - o carro que diz “Sou bem sucedido”, o brinquedo que diz “Sou um bom pai”, ou o serviço ao cliente que me faz sentir que “Não sou importante”. Em um estudo exploratório, 41 estudantes de graduação descreveram experiências com dois produtos ou serviços diferentes - um permitindo uma narrativa desejada e outro que não permitindo-a. Estes 82 estudos de caso foram analisados para explorar conceitos relevantes à narrativa dentro do contexto do uso de produtos e serviços. Foram identificadas seis maneiras diferentes nas que um produto ou serviço pode propiciar uma narrativa, foram avaliados arquétipos junguianos como forma de classificar narrativas, e foram explorados os papéis dos produtos e usuários para propiciar histórias. As implicações do acima exposto foram exploradas visando pesquisar usuários e projetos.

PALAVRAS-CHAVE: narrativa, bem-estar, design, ergonomia, design afetivo, design emocional.

Cómo citar este artículo

APA / CHICAGO / MLA

Uribe, B. (2020). Parametricism, Heuristics and Co-Creation in the Arts of Design. Actio , (4), 85-107. Retrieved from http://www.iit.unal.edu.co/revista-actio/revistas/actio4-2020/actio4-2020_article7.html

Uribe, Bernardo. “Parametricism, Heuristics and Co-Creation in the Arts of Design.” Actio , no. 4 (2020): 85-107. http://www.iit.unal.edu.co/revista-actio/revistas/actio4-2020/actio4-2020_article7.html.

Uribe, Bernardo. “Parametricism, Heuristics and Co-Creation in the Arts of Design.” Actio , no. 4, 2020, pp. 85-107., http://www.iit.unal.edu.co/revista-actio/revistas/actio4-2020/actio4-2020_article7.html.

Recibido: 6/04/2020; Aceptado: 3/06/2020; Publicado en línea: 5/10/2020

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1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 Narrative, Wellbeing and Design

There is a wide and expanding body of evidence that psychological wellbeing is influenced by the extent to which our narratives about our lives match our values and aspirations. The greater the match, the happier and more resilient we are likely to be (Bauer, McAdams, and Pals, 2008), the less anxiety we are likely to have (Vanden Poel and Hermans, 2019), the more persistent we are likely to be in tackling our goals (Jones, Destin, and McAdams, 2018) and the more meaning we are likely find in life (Hart, Laville and Cattani, 2010).

The concept of applying narrative to design is not new. Grimaldi, S., Fokkinga, S. and Ornarescu (2013) give an overview of much of the previous research). A notable early work in this area is The Hero and the Outlaw (Mark and Pearson, 2001) in which the authors suggest using Jung’s archetypes as a guide for branding products and services. Jung’s archetypes represent categories of stories, or narratives, that we have about ourselves and others (Feist and Feist, 2009; Stephens, 2006). Mark and Pearson’s work has been widely adopted within industry.

Table 1. Jungian Archetypes (adapted from Mark and Pearson, 2001)

Archetype

Goal

Strategy

Innocent

Safety and happiness

Doing things in the right way

Sage

Truth and wisdom

Seek information and reflect

Explorer

Authenticity

Exploring the world and exploring new things

Outlaw

Disrupt and shock

Challenge what is wrong in society

Magician

Make dreams come true

Develop vision and live it

Hero

Courage and mastery

Develop strength and competence

Lover

Intimacy and sensual pleasure

Become more attractive in every way

Jester

Have fun and lighten the world

Play, joke and be funny

Everyman

Belong and fit in

Develop ordinary values and common touch

Caregiver

Help and protect others

Do things for others

Ruler

Create a prosperous, successful family, organization or community

Take responsibility and exert leadership

Creator

Innovation and creativity

Use imagination, skill and creativity

Figure 1. Universal human desires and their associated archetypes (Hean, 2014).

Similarly, in her book, Design is Story Telling (Lupton, 2017) Ellen Lupton, Curator of Contemporary Design at the Cooper Hewitt Museum, outlines how facets of narrative, such as the narrative arc – the structure typically associated with an engaging story – can be applied to design.

1.2 User Centered vs. Product Centered Approaches

Typically, the application of narratives and archetypes to the development of products and services has tended to focus on the products and services themselves and their associated brands. This builds on the original work done in this area by Mark and Pearson (2001). The emphasis has been on understanding what kinds of archetypal brands users might be attracted to in particular contexts. For example, Houraghan (2018) uses the following classifications and examples when applying archetypes to brands.

Table 2. Examples of archetypical brands (from Houraghan, 2018)

Archetype

Approach

Descriptors

Examples

Outlaw

Rules are made to be broken

Disruptive, Rebellious, Combative

Virgin, Harley-Davidson, Diesel

Magician

It can happen

Mystical, Informed, Reassuring

Coca-Cola, Disney, Dyson

Hero

Where there’s a will there’s a way

Honest, Candid, Brave

Adidas, Nike, FedEx

Lover

I only have eyes for you

Sensual, Empathic, Soothing

Alfa Romeo, Chanel, Victoria’s Secret

Jester

If I can’t dance I’m not part of it

Fun-loving, Playful, Optimistic

M&Ms, Old Spice, Dollar Shave Club

Everyman

You’re just like me, I’m just like you

Friendly, Humble, Authentic

IKEA, Target, Lynx

Caregiver

Love your neighbor as yourself

Caring, Warm, Reassuring

Unicef, WWF, TOMS

Ruler

Power isn’t everything, it’s the only thing

Commanding, Refined, Articulate

Louis Vuitton, Mercedes Benz, Rolex

Creator

If it can be imagined it can be created

Inspirational, Daring, Provocative

Lego, Apple, Adobe

Innocent

Life is simple, simplicity is elegant

Optimistic, Honest, Humble

Aveeno, Dove, Innocent

Sage

The truth will set you free

Knowledgeable, Assured, Guiding

Google, BBC, University of Oxford

Explorer

Don’t fence me in

Exciting, Fearless, Daring

The North Face, Jeep, Patagonia

This approach might be considered product-, service-, or brand-centered in the sense that the focus is on creating a narrative around the product or service. Our approach, conversely, aims to be user-centered. It is about how products or services can enable to user to feel that they themselves fit to a particular archetype in a particular situation. This may not necessarily require the product or service that they are using to fit to the same archetype.

1.3 Previous Work

Previously (Jordan, Bardill, Herd and Grimaldi, 2017) we used Jung’s archetypes as a means of segmenting types of narratives that people want to have about themselves. In an immersive study, we reflected on the narratives that are important to us (the four authors) and the role that products or services play in helping us to achieve those. We differed in the narratives we desired, the consistency with which this applied across life areas, and the degree with which the products we owned contributed to our desired narratives.

Andy (Bardill) selected the Hero archetype as representative of his desired narrative type across life areas. The products he submitted for analysis – his car and a previously owned washing machine – had both helped to contribute to this narrative because he had been able to affect repairs to them that kept them working against all the odds, bringing acclaim from his family and others.

Andy’s story starts with him buying a used Mitsubishi Pajero, collecting it with his family and driving home in the rain. The family fall in love with it. They have fantastic trips in the car, both in the UK and abroad, and bond with it, giving ‘her’ the name ‘Old Betsy’. Many happy years later Andy notices that Old Betsy is starting to develop problems. These start with minor faults, but over time they become more and more severe. One day there is a catastrophic failure – the cylinder head is cracked . Old Betsy seems beyond repair. Andy is resigned to getting another car, but the family can’t bear to part with Betsy so he sets about trying to repair her. He works day after day, drawing lots of attention from his neighbours. Eventually the time comes to see if she works. Neighbours and family gather in the street, others look from their windows. Everyone is tense as Andy turns the key. Nothing seems to be happening but Betsy suddenly roars into life. A huge cheer goes up. Against all the odds Andy has saved her! Andy and his family are delighted and the neighbours are very impressed. They go on to have many more happy years with the car.

Andy’s Story

Figure 2. Old Betsy (author’s image).

Figure 3. Pat’s Q7 (author’s image).

Pat (Jordan’s) car, on the other hand, a new Audi Q7, was not bringing him joy despite the high-status associated with it. Discussing his car history, those cars he most enjoyed talking about were funny in some way – the rusty Wolseley whose seat fell through the floor when he was driving on the motorway; the Maroon Jaguar that got compliments from older men; the Rolls-Royce that was so expensive to run that he went everywhere by taxi; the cartoonishly excessive supercharged Range Rover. He enjoyed laughing at his memories of them and enjoyed others laughing when they heard about them. The Q7 wasn’t bringing him pleasure because it was a Ruler’s car and he wanted to be a Jester.

The focus of this paper is on how designers and researchers can understand the desired narratives of the people who use their products and services and how design can facilitate these narratives.

2. THE STUDY

2.1 Aims

This was an exploratory study. The aims were to gain insights into the enablement (or not) of desired narratives through design and to identify areas within this that might benefit from further investigation.

2.1 Method

To address this question an empirical study was carried out involving 41 undergraduate design students in the UK, mostly in their early 20s. The students had been given a seminar on narrative and design, including a description of Jung’s archetypes as a basis for segmenting narratives. They were asked to describe two situations from their experience – one where a product or service helped them to achieve a desired narrative and one where it didn’t and to explain why (see Appendix 1 for wording of the request). They produced written descriptions, with visuals, of the relevant products and services and the situations in which the desired narratives were or were not enabled.

Participants analysed their narratives themselves, assigning it to one of Jung’s 12 archetypes based on their own judgement.

2.2 Results and Discussion

The selected archetypes and products/services are summarized here, with more details about each given in Appendix 2.

Table 3. Archetypes and products/services of participants

Desired Archetype Enabled

Desired Archetype Not Enabled

Archetype

Product/Service

Archetype

Product/Service

Explorer

Boxing Gloves

Everyperson

Smartphone

Sage

Smartphone

Ruler

Headphones

Creator

Laptop

Everyperson

Headphones

Hero

Gym

Everyperson

Headphones

Creator

Wireless Mouse

Creator

Digital Drawing Pad

Magician

Bicycle

Ruler

Personal Digital Assistant

Sage

Markers

Magician

Replica Lightsaber

Everyperson

Headphones

Explorer

Headphones

Ruler

Fashion Boots

Creator

Graphics Editor

Creator

Laptop

Ruler

Football Boots

Explorer

Gym Equipment

Caregiver

Laptop

Hero

Basketball Socks

Creator

Watercolour Brushes

Jester

Games Console

Outlaw

BMX Clothing

Creator

Acrylic Paint

Everyperson

Car

Explorer

Language Course

Creator

Sewing Machine

Creator

Film Camera

Everyperson

Smartphone

Explorer

Online Talks

Ruler

Training Shoes

Explorer

Football Boots

Everyperson

Smartphone

Explorer

Car

Innocent

Agenda

Creator

Oil Diffuser

Ruler

Wallet

Everyperson

Smartphone

Ruler

Backpack

Sage

Notebook (paper)

Everyperson

Notebook (paper)

Outlaw

Fashion Boots

Everyperson

Shoes

Creator

Digital Camera

Everyperson

Shoes

Explorer

Fitness Watch

Lover

Fashion Bag

Creator

Painting Set

Everyperson

Headphones

Magician

Earphones

Caregiver

Sustainable Cup

Innocent

Milk Shaker

Ruler

Earphones

Hero

Tennis Racket

Explorer

Rail Pass

Explorer

Bicycle

Hero

Basketball Training

Hero

Basketball Knee Pads

Everyperson

Smartphone

Hero

Go-Karting

Explorer

Swimming Float

Everyman

Laptop

Creator

Graphics Tablet

Ruler

Football Boots

Creator

Printers

Ruler

Car

Hero

Gym Equipment

Magician

Laptop

Outlaw

Poster

Explorer

Earphones

Everyperson

Swimming Top

Everyperson

Laptop

Ruler

Earphones

Everyperson

Watch

Everyperson

Smartphone

Outlaw

Smartphone

Jester

Card Game

The next table shows how often each archetype was desired and whether or not the product or service enabled it.

Table 4. Desired archetypes and whether they were fulfilled

Archetype

Desired, Enabled

Desired, Not Enabled

Total

Everyperson

6

14

20

Creator

8

6

14

Explorer

9

3

12

Ruler

3

8

11

Hero

5

2

7

Magician

3

1

4

Outlaw

2

2

4

Sage

3

0

3

Innocent

1

1

2

Jester

1

1

2

Caregiver

0

2

2

Lover

0

1

1

Perhaps not surprisingly, given that they were design students, Creator (mentioned 14 times) was one of the most commonly desired archetypes. Explorer (12), might also be associated with creative people. Everyperson (20) was the most selected, which might reflect younger people’s desire to fit it (Scott, 2017). Meanwhile Ruler (11) archetypes may reflect this being an ambitious, motivated group. Between them these four accounted for 70% of their desired archetypes.

This table lists categories of product or service mentioned and the number of occasions when each was associated with enabling, or not enabling a desired narrative.

Table 5. Categories of product or service, number of case studies and how often they enabled the desired narrative

Category of Product or Service

Desired Narrative Enabled

Desired Narrative Not Enabled

Total

Sports Clothing & Equipment

10

6

16

Headphones & Earphones

3

8

11

Clothing & Accessories

4

6

10

Computer Hardware & Software

6

3

9

Non-Digital Creative & Writing Materials

5

5

10

Smartphones

3

5

8

Transport

4

2

6

Digital Devices

1

2

3

Household Products

2

2

4

Toys & Games

1

2

3

Courses & Talks

2

0

2

Again, the breakdown here may reflect the age and interests of participants. Three of the categories – Computer Hardware & Software, Non-Digital Creative & Writing Materials, and Digital Devices – contained things that were used for creative activities. Between them, these accounted for 22 of the case studies. Meanwhile, another two prominent categories - Headphones & Earphones, and Smartphones – represented products that might be seen as important to this age cohort. They are things that others will see.

That sports equipment featured so prominently (12 case studies) may reflect the many opportunities for playing sports that their university offered.

3. HOW NARRATIVES WERE ENABLED (OR NOT)

Analysing participants’ descriptions we identified six separate ways in which products and services could enable desired narratives. This analysis was based on our professional judgement rather than, for example, a formal content analysis.

3.1 Narrative by Association

The idea of using archetypes as models for products, services and brands is well established (e.g. Mark and Pearson, 2001). Some approaches assert that people will select products and services with associated narratives similar to the ones they aspire to. For example, if someone wants to be an Outlaw, they will buy an Outlaw product, such as a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Or, if someone wants to be a Ruler, they might buy a Ruler product such as a Rolex watch. There were examples of this in our sample. For example, the participant desiring an Outlaw narrative selected clothing that had been branded that way. Similarly, those who described the laptops chose a brand that was promoted using Creator narratives.

3.2 Showcasing Strengths

This was most commonly associated with Ruler narratives – situations where participants hoped a product would enable them to demonstrate superior abilities or tastes. Ironically, in all six cases where participants hoped to showcase their strengths this didn’t happen. For example, one participant bought bright orange football boots hoping that it would help him stand out and put his ability in the spotlight. Unfortunately he didn’t have a good game, leading to mockery of his boots, which had indeed put him in the spotlight but not with the desired outcome.

The flipside is exposing weaknesses. The participant with the car desiring an Everyperson narrative wanted to fit in with his friends, most of who had passed their driving tests, but became the focus of ridicule as he took nine goes to pass, then crashed soon after.

3.3 Enhancement

This is where a product or service enhances performance. Examples include the mouse and the oil diffuser. Both enabled Creator narratives through, respectively, helping a participant to work longer (through being less straining to use) and putting a participant in a creative mind-set. On the other hand the digital drawing pad and the graphics editor didn’t enable enhanced performance and a Creator narrative was not enabled – lack of usability being the issue in both cases. The same was true of the sewing machine, which was bulky, so got left at home rather than being bought to university.

3.4 Transformation

An example of this was the fashion boots that enabled a Ruler narrative. She described most of her activities as “male things” – engineering, sport and hardcore punk. But wearing the boots she feels feminine. She feels women are “more organised and in control.” This, plus extra height from the heels, made her feel powerful. She felt a different person when wearing them – more “assertive and forceful”. It appeared that the participant strongly associated gender with particular activities and qualities and because she saw the boots as being highly gendered wearing them transformed her. The participant with the basketball socks was also transformed having become a much more “aggressive and effective” player since she started wearing them, enabling a Hero narrative.

3.5 Opening Up New Worlds

This was mainly associated with Explorer narratives. The boxing gloves enabled a participant to get into a new sport – one that challenged her, helped her make new friends, and became an important part of her life. She chose purple gloves as it was her favourite colour and she felt it added a personal touch. An English course sparked a love of both the language and the country leading to a participant leaving her home country and coming to study in the UK. Opening up new worlds could also be associated with other narrative types. For example, one participant’s purchase of a games console enabled him to enter a world where he could be funny and create a Jester narrative.

3.6 In Opposition

In the case of the participant discussing the bicycle, the Magician narrative was enabled by it being too big for her (she was a child at the time) and her amazing people by riding it anyway. This is an example of the narrative being generated by overcoming a limitation of a product – it was the only example in this sample. However it could also be argued that Andy’s Hero narrative was reliant on his car’s faults and Pat’s Jester narrative was dependent on the unsuitability of his vehicles. Despite these ‘flaws’ all three people were positive about the products they described. However, it is conceivable that positive narratives could be created in opposition to disliked products – a Hero narrative through campaigning against environmentally damaging products for example.

4. THEORETICAL AND PRACTICAL ISSUES ARISING

4.1 People and Products and Services as Characters within a Narrative

There are many ways of classifying the characters within a narrative. For the purposes of this analysis, we will use a fairly broad 4-way classification.

  • Protagonist: the main character in the narrative
  • Antagonist: typically works to stop the protagonist attaining their goal
  • Supporting: support either the protagonist or the antagonist
  • Ancillary: characters who are in the background or set the scene

Other classifications subdivide the supporting and ancillary characters into named segments, for example Adams (2018) breaks these down to give a total of 9 separate character types, while Propp (2015) has 8.

In a product, service or brand based approach the product, service or brand might be seen as the protagonist – the associated archetype is formed on the basis of the image of these. In a user-centered approach, however, it is the user that is more commonly the protagonist. Usually the product or service will play at supporting role and may or may not have a related archetype of its own. In the case of narrative by association, then, we would probably want the product or service to have the same archetype that the user wants to be.

In this case study, for example, the reason that the user felt that the desired narrative wasn’t supported was because others did not recognize the product as being an Outlaw product and hence he was not able to enjoy an Outlaw narrative by association.

Product: BOQER Top; Desired narrative: Outlaw

He used to be a keen BMX bike rider and loved the sport and its image. Although he has stopped riding he still likes to buy clothing associated with the BMX scene, such as BOQER. However, he feels that no one he knows is aware of the brand or its associations, so it doesn’t work

In this case however, the user felt that wearing football boots with a Ruler brand inspired her to be a Ruler too. Although not specifically within the context of archetypes, there is considerable empirical evidence that people are drawn to products and services that they perceive as having a ‘personality’ that they aspire to. For example, in their much-cited paper I Love My Jeep Because It’s Tough Like Me, Govers and Mugge (2004) describe how people become attached to products that they see as being similar to them in some way. Similarly Jordan (1997, 2002) found that people consistently expressed preferences for products that they perceived as having similar personalities to themselves.

Product: 350 Lionel Messi Football Boots; Desired Narrative: Ruler

She bought these boots ahead of her trial for a Women’s Super League team. She sees the choice of boots as vital to a footballer and chose these as Messi is her inspiration. When she wears them she feels she can ‘boss’ the team.

In the case of narrative by association it may not always be the case that the user sees themself as the main protagonist. They might see themselves, for example, as a member of a tribe associated with the product – in these cases the BOQER tribe or the Lionel Messi tribe. In such a scenario they would be a supporting character – a loyal member of the gang for example and the product might be the protagonist. On the other hand they might see themselves as the protagonist and the product as a supporting character – perhaps a mentor who enables them to have a particular type of narrative.

In the case of showcasing strengths, perhaps the user will inevitably be the protagonist. It is, after all, their strengths that are being showcased. In this case study, for example, the tennis racket enabled her to demonstrate her competitiveness and ability at the sport – leading to the desired Hero narrative.

Product: Head Youtek Graphine Instinct Tennis Racket; Desired Narrative: Hero.

This was an expensive racket, but she felt it was worth it for the competitive edge that it gave her. Her team mates were interested in it and started asking her for advice.

The racket is part of the supporting cast that enables this. It might be seen as a trusty and competent ally but wouldn’t necessarily need a well-developed narrative of its own, provided it can support her desired narrative, which in this case it did.

In this next case study, the product is also part of the supporting cast, with the user the protagonist. Again, the boot would not have to have a strong narrative of it’s own to enable him to have a ruler narrative. It’s role was simply putting him in the spotlight – as a character we might imagine it as a flamboyant agent or a cheerleader – helping to put the focus on him.

Product: Nike Football Boots; Desired Narrative: Ruler. These were very expensive bright-orange boots. He thought that by wearing them he would be more likely to get the captaincy of his team because he would be seen as taking the sport very seriously. However, the rest of the team (who all had ‘normal’ football boots) looked on these negatively and mocked him, remarking that his parents bought them rather than him.

In this case, as in many that the desired narrative was not enabled, it was not seen by the user as being the ‘fault’ of the product. In a sense the product had done its job of putting him in the spotlight – it is just that he had failed to deliver when he was in it. In this case it was not clear from the participant’s description whether or not this led to him having negative feelings towards the product.

In the cases where a narrative is enabled through enhancement, the product or service is again in a supporting role, without the need for a strong narrative of its own. In these case studies the Oil Diffuser and Mouse helped to deliver the desired narratives though working well and fulfilling their function to a high level.

Product: Oil Diffuser; Desired Narrative: Creator

As she is studying a creative subject she wanted a product that would help her to get into a creative mood. She uses the oil diffuser while she works at home. She likes the aroma and the lights, which change through 7 different colours. She feels more creative and productive when she uses it.

Product: Microsoft Wireless Mouse; Desired Narrative: Creator. She found using this more comfortable than using the track-pad on her laptop. She was able to work for longer without fatigue and as a result produced higher quality work.

Where the product or service is enabling a narrative though transformation, there may be something of a magical narrative associated with it. In the fashion boots case study, for example, the boots seem to have an almost ‘magical’ power to transform the user. That doesn't necessarily mean that they have a Magician narrative associated with them, they could be seen as magical objects – similar to the Ruby Slippers in Wizard of Oz 1 for example. Similarly, the basketball socks seem to give the user confidence and power on the basketball court that she might not otherwise have – similar to the cartoon strip Billy’s Boots 2.

Product: Knee-Length Fashion Boots; Desired Narrative: Ruler

She has tended to see herself as doing what she regards as ‘male’ things – engineering, sport and hardcore punk are her main interests. By contrast, when she is wearing these boots she feels feminine. She thinks that women are “more organised and in control” and that added to the added height from the boots’ substantial heals makes her feel more powerful. She says that she is a different more assertive person when wearing the boots – for example she speaks up more and gives her opinions more forcefully.

Product: Basketball Socks; Desired Narrative: Hero. She played basketball at school and then joined a ‘semi-professional’ club where the game was taken more seriously and played more aggressively. The socks protected her knees when she fell. They looked professional, making her feel more accomplished.

Where a narrative is enabled through opening new worlds the product can play the role of a mentor or teacher, introducing the user to something new that they will not only enjoy but which will significantly enhance their life in wider ways. In the case of the boxing gloves, for example, the participant felt that new abilities and strengths were brought out of her by the sport and that she gained a new social circle. Meanwhile in the language course example, the user not only gained proficiency in the language, but the whole course of her life altered as a result of taking the course.

Product: Boxing Gloves; Desired Narrative: Explorer

She was able to try a new martial art. Met a lot of new people. Explored own abilities in challenging sport. The gloves are purple. She chose purple as it is her favourite colour rather than choosing a common colour.

Product: English Language Course; Desired Narrative: Explorer

She is from Spain and when she was 14 went to the UK to do an English course. It was the first time she had been in a non Spanish-speaking country and the first time away from her parents – she stayed with a host family. It changed her way of seeing things and after the course she decided to travel on her own to other countries and eventually enrolled at a UK university.

If the user’s narrative is developed in opposition to a product or service, then the product or service might be in the antagonist’s role. As mentioned earlier, this didn’t seem to be so in any of our case studies. However, that may have been due to the way in which the task was set for participants. We asked them to talk about products or services that they were using in the hope of a positive narrative, so it is not surprising that they didn’t choose products that they inherently saw as antagonists. In the case of the bicycle, she had ‘overcome’ it to achieve something difficult – riding a bike that was much too big for her – but that didn’t mean that she saw it as ‘the enemy’.

Product: Trek Bicycle; Desired Narrative: Magician. This was a big bicycle and she was only 7 years old. It felt like magic to overcome her fears and to be able to ride. Didn’t think it would be possible to ride, but eventually she rode it safely down the street. Her friends and family were amazed.

There are undoubtedly situations in which people form positive self-narratives in opposition to particular products and services. For example, in the United Kingdom many people are campaigning against the building of a new high-speed rail service on the grounds that it is environmentally damaging. In this context, the service is the antagonist but it is enabling people to build positive narratives about themselves for opposing it (Proctor, 2020). Protesting against products such as cigarettes or large polluting vehicles may fulfil similar roles as indeed may protest against anything that a person believes to be harmful or wrong (van Stekelenberg and Klandermans, 2013; Klandermans, 2014).

Should we ever deliberately design products or services to be antagonists to the user? Possibly, as it may the case that there are some products or services that a user would see as a ‘friendly’ or ‘fun’ antagonist. For example, a game may act as an antagonist when in one-player mode, but as long as the game works well the user may still have positive feelings towards it. However, it would seem perverse and harmful to deliberately design something that our target audience considered so negative that they would define their identity in opposition to it.

4.2 Jung’s Archetypes as a Basis for Narrative Segmentation

Desired narrative could be used as a variable in user segmentation. Currently segmentation, or user grouping, is usually done using variables such as demographics, lifestyle, and what people are using a particular product or service for (Malos, 2018). To such variables we could add desired narrative types. So far we have been using Jung’s archetypes as a basis for this, but there could be other ways of doing it.

Using Jung’s archetypes as a basis for narrative segmentation has been criticised, within narrative psychology, on a number of grounds. For example, that fitting narratives in these 12 categories is reductionist and stereotypical (Reed, 2009); that the archetypes are not as universal as Jung claimed and should be seen through a more contextual lens (Holt and Cameron, 2010); that they represent the world as Jung saw it, rather than as others do (Frank, 2009); and that as narrative categories they are woolly and subjective (Gundry, 2006).

There may be merit in all of these objections, although to an extent most of them could be seen as highlighting the drawbacks of any basis for segmentation. A segmentation, by its nature, may have to be somewhat reductionist as, from a practical perspective, having enough categories to capture the full range of individuals’ nuances might make the segmentation too unwieldy to be of value. Similarly, for a segmentation to be of value the variables on which it’s divisions are based should reflect the population that it is segmenting. If these variables represent what is important in the culture of the researcher, rather than the population that is being researched, that can be very problematic because the segmentation may lead to a focus on variables that are not relevant. This issue has arisen in many instances where Western researchers have analysed non-Western cultures through a Western lens (Jordan, 2001).

On top of all these other criticisms there is also perhaps the most fundamental one, which is that Jung’s work is not ‘scientific’ in the sense that we would regard that term today. In analytical psychology, as practiced by Jung and his mentor Freud, there is a comparatively large reliance on ‘professional judgement’ to a degree that might seem reckless in the context of how behavioural research is conducted today, with far more emphasis on empiricism and statistics (Jones, 2013).

To weigh against these criticisms is the longevity of the archetypes and their use. Presumably they must tap into facets of character and aspiration that people recognise for them to still be in common use 100 years after their conception. Also weighing in their favour is their apparently widespread and successful use within marketing and branding. In our study we found that each archetype was easily understood and that participants had no difficultly in identifying into which archetypes their own narratives fitted. Nevertheless, it may be worth investigating different frameworks for narrative segmentation and also how we might segment narratives in a way that is more specific to a particular population if this adds value.

A complicating factor for narrative segmentation is that people may aspire to different narrative types in different contexts. In our study, only one participant was hoping for the same narrative type in the two situations they described. Because of this, it would probably be prudent to regard desired narrative as a context specific variable, similar to, for example, what they would use a particular product or service for, rather than a fixed personal characteristic, such as age or socio-economic status.

Despite contextual variation, it may still be possible to determine useful information about the narratives most commonly desired by particular groups. If, for the sake of illustration, we take our sample as being representative of a segment called ‘Young Creatives’ we can see that (not surprisingly) Creator narratives are important to them, but so are Everyperson, Explorer and Ruler narratives. When designing for them, we might try and create a product or service that can enable a combination of all or some of these narratives, or we might focus on one in particular depending on what we expected to be of most relevance to the particular product or service we are designing.

4.3 Research and Design

There has already been considerable work done in the area of narrative by association. In addition to the examples given earlier, Mark and Pearson (2001) list examples of this for every archetype.

Other approaches to enabling narratives may be more complex and require specific research about the particular users that we are designing for. For example, if we are helping people to showcase or enhance their strengths, or disguise or mitigate their weaknesses, we would need to know both what the strengths and weaknesses of the user group are in the context of the product or service that they were using, and the extent to which these feed into life-narratives that are important to them. In the case of the participant who kept failing his driving test, for example, he felt humiliated because he wanted to be an Everyperson – had he wished to be a Jester, the failures might have been seen as a source of funny anecdotes.

To achieve a narrative through transformation requires a product or service to enable a person to think differently about themselves and their qualities and abilities. This might be through strong cultural associations or by enabling something that they had previously thought beyond them. In our own self-studies, for example, Pat recalled how successfully carrying out some home maintenance – something he hadn’t previously considered – made him feel like an Everyperson within a particular group of friends.

This example might also be associated with opening new worlds – it didn’t in this case as Pat is not particularly enthusiastic about home maintenance. Entering a new world can be facilitated by making that world seem attractive and the barrier to entry low. Had the English course been too difficult, maybe our participant would never have come to the UK.

In these situations, whether the product or service enables a positive narrative is also dependent on whether the world the person has entered is one that they find rewarding. If our participant hadn’t enjoyed boxing or made friends with other boxers, the gloves wouldn’t have enabled a positive narrative no matter how good they were.

The scenarios that might be most difficult to address are those where a positive narrative is formed in opposition to a product or service. Designing bicycles to be too big for their users or cars so that their floor collapses while driving at speed on a motorway are probably not sensible options! There may be situations in which gamification can be used in these contexts. Designing difficulty into games would be the most literal example. Designing products to be repairable rather than disposable also opens possibilities here – a user would have the chance to take on the challenge of fixing it, rather than throwing it away.

5. CONCLUSIONS

While much previous work has focused on creating narratives around products, services and brands, in this exploratory study, we looked at how products and services can enable users to create desired narratives about themselves. Enabling user narrative through design is a fledgling topic and this work represents and early attempt to identify some of the key issues.

The results of the study suggested six ways in which products and services could support users desired narratives:

  1. Through the user’s association with the product or service
  2. Showcasing the user’s strengths
  3. Enhancing the user’s performance
  4. Enabling a transformation in the user
  5. Enabling new activities and experiences
  6. By giving the user something to overcome or oppose

Unlike approaches that put the product or service at the center of the narrative, enabling a narrative for a user will usually, although not always, require having them rather than the product as the main protagonist.

How we understand people’s desired narratives in any given situation may be a topic for further research going forward. In this study we used Jung’s archetypes as a means of narrative classification. It showed promise in this regard, being understandable and meaningful to participants and apparently demonstrating commonalities among them as a group. Their continued and widespread use across industry and academia also lends weight to arguments for their usefulness, even if there is a question as to their scientific validity, in the sense that the concept is currently perceived.

In future, if more data can be gathered, it may be of value to take a quantitative approach and to form and test some hypotheses. For example, are different groups in the population bound by common narrative desires, in the way our ‘Young Creatives’ seem to be? Are there associations between particular desired narratives and the means of achieving them?

Perhaps more fundamentally, this study has been an attempt to learn from people’s previous experiences with products and services. A designer needs to be able to work in the other direction – starting with desired narratives and making design decisions on that basis. Some exploratory work in that direction may be a sensible next step.

References

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Appendix 1. Instructions

  1. Think of a product or service that you owned or used in a situation where you wanted to achieve a particular type of narrative (archetype) and the product or service helped enable this

1a. Describe the product or service

1b. Describe the situation in which it was used

1c. Explain how it enabled the desired narrative

  1. Think of a product or service that you owned or used in a situation where you wanted to achieve a particular type of narrative (archetype) and the product or service failed to help enable this

1a. Describe the product or service

1b. Describe the situation in which it was used

1c. Explain how it failed to enable the desired narrative

Appendix 2. Case Study summaries (by participant number)

DESIRED ARCHETYPE ENABLED

DESIRED ARCHETYPE NOT ENABLED

1. Boxing Gloves. Purple, unusual colour

iPod touch

Explorer. Was able to try a new martial art. Met a lot of new people. Explored own abilities in challenging sport. The gloves are purple. She chose purple as it is her favourite colour rather than choosing a common colour

Everywoman. Wanted one because all her friends had. But her parents got her the newer version and so hers was ‘better’ than her peers. As a result she was called rich and spoilt which made her feel upset

2. Galaxy S9

Bowers and Wilkins P7 Headphones

Sage. Always wants to learn – this gives him knowledge at his fingertips at all times and is easy to use

Ruler. He feels that when they are on that you are in control of your world – other noises are shut out and he can listen to the music of his choice. However, he soon comes to “realise that I am just another small person in a vast world”

3. Apple MacBook Pro

Apple Ear Pods

Creator. He used the laptop to learn new creative skills, including video editing and Photoshop. He has used his new skills to make videos for YouTube

Everyman. These are Bluetooth wireless headphones made by Apple. He thought that they would be quite common and that lots of people would have them. However, it turned out they were rare at the time. People looked and pointed as they looked like normal Apple headphones with the wires missing

4. Puregym

Apple Beats Solo 2 (Red)

Hero. By using the gym he improved physically and psychologically, became more strong and powerful and his performance at other sports improved e.g. football. He became more self-confident about meeting new people and felt that he looked better.

Everyman. He got these headphones as a gift and was pleased to have them. However, when he wore them people were envious and he perceived that they had negative feelings towards him.

5. Microsoft Wireless Mouse (pink)

ISKN Slate 2+ Digital Drawing Pad

Creator. She found using this more comfortable than using the track-pad on her laptop. She was able to work for longer without fatigue and as a result produced higher quality work.

Creator. She expected it to help her to sketch naturally and have it displayed on other devices via Bluetooth. The device didn’t work as it she thought it should. She had a ‘botch’ a way of using it and the sketches didn’t look natural when displayed on screen

6. Trek Bicycle

Blackberry 9300

Magician. This was a big bicycle and she was only 7. Felt like magic to overcome her fears and to be able to ride. Didn’t think it would be possible to ride, but eventually she rode it safely down the street. Her friends and family were amazed.

Ruler. She Was given the Blackberry as a gift from her parents. Her schoolmates were jealous of it, but she didn’t mind that. However, she got into trouble for using it in school and often got detentions, which also got her into trouble with her mom.

7. Copic Ciao Markers

Anakin Skywalker Fx Lightsaber (Master Replica)

Sage. These markers are considered, within the design profession, to be a very good quality professional product. They give realistic shading and blending of colours. He used them while watching and following along to Spencer Nugent videos. Nugent is a designer who also teaches sketching via his YouTube channel.

Magician. He wanted it to be fun to play with and impress his little sisters. When he got it he was thrilled by how well made and realistic it was. However it became almost too precious too him to the extent that he didn’t want to use it in case he damaged it. In particular its weight made him nervous that he might drop it.

8. Sony MDR-XB 50 Headphones

BOSE Headphones QC35

Everyman. He sees these headphones as being good quality and low price and not particularly distinctive – they are “nothing special and don’t attract attention”. They break occasionally and when they do he replaces them with another pair of the same.

Explorer. He spent a long time researching which headphones to buy and believed that these were of especially high quality. However he found them to be no better than his Sony ones, so his ‘exploring’ was in vain

9. Knee-Length Suede Boots (black – make unspecified)

Adobe Photoshop

Ruler. She has tended to see herself as doing what she regards as ‘male’ things – engineering, sport and hardcore punk are her main interests. By contrast, when she is wearing these boots she feels feminine. She thinks that women are “more organised and in control” and that added to the added height from the boots substantial heals makes her feel more powerful. She says that she is a different more assertive person when wearing the boots – for example she speaks up more and gives her opinions more forcefully.

Creator. She wanted to create impressive images for her projects. She expected to be able to do this with Photoshop. But she found it hard to use and was disappointed with the results.

10. Apple MacBook Pro

Nike Football Boots

Creator. He brought the MacBook Pro because he wanted to explore new creative software such as the Adobe Suite that runs on it. He was used to Macs so had no difficulties using the laptop and was able to make good progress using the creative software.

Ruler. These were very expensive bright-orange boots. He thought that by wearing them he would be more likely to get the captaincy of his team because he would be seen as taking the sport very seriously. However, the rest of the team (who all had ‘normal’ football boots) looked on these negatively and mocked him, remarking that his parents bought them rather than him.

11. Pull Up Power Tower

Laptop (unspecified)

Explorer. He is a regular gym user but often finds that the pull up machine is difficult to get time on as it is constantly in use. He built this one at home and feels that he can focus better without distractions.

Caregiver. He bought a laptop that he used for his schoolwork. It meant that he could work from home rather than having to go to the library. He also lent the laptop to his brothers. Then the laptop starting having reliability problems, especially the screen, so he had to go back to working in the library and his brothers had nothing to use.

12. Basketball Socks (unspecified)

Watercolour Brushes (unspecified)

Hero. She played basketball at school and then joined a ‘semi-professional’ club where the game was taken more seriously and played more aggressively. The socks protected her knees when she fell. They looked professional, making her feel more accomplished.

Creator. She bought these as she wanted to develop her painting and drawing skills. However they lost hair and didn’t work well making it hard for her to develop as an artist.

13. Sony PlayStation

BOQER Clothing

Jester. He got a PlayStation much later than his friends and had to save up to get one. He felt that he was missing out on lots of fun. When he got one he could join in with their games. When he had one he became part of the fun and playfulness and felt part of the group.

Outlaw. He used to be a keen BMX bike rider and loved the sport and its image. Although he has stopped riding he liked to buy clothing associated with the BMX scene, such as BOQER. However, he feels that no one he knows is aware of the brand or its associations, so it doesn’t work

14. Acrylic Paint (unspecified)

Car (unspecified)

Creator. He started painting to have a hobby and explore his creative side. His brother gave him some acrylic paints, a medium he had not used before. Suddenly he started having lots of new ideas and experimenting with different combinations of textures and materials. He felt that it opened up his creativity

Everyman. When he was 18 he was expected to get a driving licence like his family and friends. They seemed to find it easy, but he took seven attempts to pass. Quite soon after he crashed and has been mocked for his bad driving. He still feels anxious about driving.

15. English Course in the UK (unspecified)

Sewing Machine (unspecified)

Explorer. She is from Spain and when she was 14 went to do an English course in the UK. It was the first time she had been in a non Spanish-speaking country and the first time away from her parents – she stayed with a host family. It changed her way of seeing things and after the course she decided to travel on her own to other countries and eventually enrolled at a UK university.

Creator. After doing a cutting and sewing course, her parents bought her – at her request – a high-end sewing machine. However, soon after she moved to commence her university studies and didn’t take the machine with her as it is bulky to transport, as a result of which she has never made anything with it

16. Instax Mini 9 Camera

Apple iPhone 5s (silver)

Creator. This is a film camera that uses instant film. She uses a film called ‘icy blue’ as blue is her favourite colour. She likes to make collages of photos to show to others and puts the other photos in an album. She likes that it is different from just taking photos on a phone and she takes the camera everywhere taking photos of people and places that are important to her.

Everywoman. This was the first phone she bought and was excited that she could finally fit in with her friends who all had iPhones. However just after she bought it a new version came out. He friends were all able to upgrade before her leaving her once again feeling that she didn’t fit in.

17. TED Talks

Balenciaga Speed Trainers

Explorer. The huge range of the topics and the passion of the speakers are very appealing to him. They challenge his beliefs and ignite new interest. He feels that by watching them he extends himself.

Ruler. These are a high-end trainer that are highly rated by people who are into trainers. They have an unusual aesthetic, which makes them distinctive. By wearing then he hoped he would stand out from the crowd. However, when he wore them he got negative feedback about their looks and people told him that they were overrated.

18. CR7 Football Boots

Apple iPhone

Explorer. Cristiano Ronaldo is his favourite footballer and that was what inspired him to buy the boots and take up playing football himself. As soon as he started it felt very natural and playing football has been his best experience ever.

Everyman. Everyone at his school was talking about how great the iPhone 11 was. He wanted to fit in my having one, but waited until they updated it and got a higher-end version. He was criticised by his friends as being ‘rich and spoiled’.

19. Renault Megane

Agenda

Explorer. She saved up and when she had enough money went with her father to buy a car from an approved used car dealership. She felt immediately that this was the right car for her. She was excited to take trips with her friends having seen YouTube videos about road trips. Her friends were excited that she had a car and she was pleased that she would be the one deciding where they would go.

Innocent. She had a habit of procrastinating, which she hoped to cure by buying the agenda and writing down what she had to do. However, although she wrote things down, she still didn’t act on them and eventually stopped even writing things in it. In the end she felt that she had failed as she wasn’t organised even with the agenda.

20. Oil Diffuser

Wallet

Creator. As she is studying a creative subject she wanted a product that would help her to get into a creative mood. She uses the oil diffuser while she works at home. She likes the aroma and the lights, which change through 7 different colours. She feels more creative and productive when she uses it.

Ruler. She didn’t like having to root around in her bag to find her money and credit cards, so she bought an attractive-looking wallet to put them in, so she could have them to hand. However, the wallet was too large, so she ended up with it in her bag and cash and the most important cards in her pocket.

21. Apple iPhone

North Face Backpack

Everyman. He wanted a high-end phone so that he would fit in with the rest of the class. He likes the simple design of the iPhone. Since buying it he feels that he fits in which is comforting for him. He also likes that the camera takes good quality photos.

Ruler. He spent £55 on this, which was more than he had ever spent on a backpack before. He hoped that this would be noticed and help him stand out. However it didn’t get any attention. It also had a habit of getting dusty which made him feel embarrassed about it.

22. Moleskin Classic Notebook

Europa Notemaker

Sage. He felt that this was an established brand that was synonymous with intelligent people over the years. He uses it outside of university, feels that it is a quality product with a good reputation and he feels kinship with others that use it.

Everyman. As a mature, overseas student he was determined to try and fit in. He bought this ring-bound notebook as they are very common in the USA where he is from. However all the other students used loose-leaf pads which accentuated rather than played down the differences.

23. Dash Chunky High-Top Boots (Tan)

Dolly Flat Shoes

Outlaw. She usually wore trainers, so these were a departure for her, breaking her usual boundaries. None of her friends have boots like these. She doesn’t feel they were designed to be Outlaw boots, but for her they are.

Everywoman. These were part of her school uniform. She was exempted from wearing them due to her disability, but persuaded her parents to buy them. She found them very painful to wear and wore away the sides of the soles very quickly. Her parents weren’t pleased as they had warned her that they might not be suitable.

24. Sony Alpha Camera

Van’s Old Skool Trainer

Creator. The camera had a good reputation and is used by professionals, so she can keep using it as she develops as a photographer. There are lots of features that enable her to be more creative.

Everywoman. These are a very popular trainer that were worn by a lot of her classmates at school. She hoped that my getting some she would fit in better and be more accepted. However, she still wasn’t accepted once she had them.

25. LETSCOM Fitness Watch

Louis Vuitton Handbag

Explorer. She was interested in improving her fitness and chose this watch as it was comparatively well-priced. Keeping count of her steps motivated her to achieve her fitness goals. She explored the town and landscape more as a result to add to her daily steps. “My life has completely changed since I had this.”

Lover. She asked her parents to buy this for her as she felt that by having it she would gain confidence and be more attractive to others. However, she only got negative comments about it being a waste of money. In the end she gave it to her mother.

26. Easel/Painting Set

Beats Wireless Headphones (Red)

Creator. She bought this set when she was 15 or 16. It contained and easel and a wide selection of paints and brushes. She was able to paint more effectively at the easel than using a table. The variety of materials encouraged her to experiment and she spent hours and hours being creative.

Everywoman. Her earphone broke so she decided to get headphone and went for these because they were the most popular brand among her friends. However, she didn’t find the quality great and they broke after 3 or 4 months, after which she bought earphones again.

27. Nike Gloves

Sony WI-C300 Headphones

Everyman. He had previously only worn cheap gloves, but his mother got him these as a gift. They attracted a lot of positive comments from his friends and made him feel that he fitted in.

Everyman. He wanted some wireless headphones and got these as, although much cheaper, he thought they would be just as good as the Apple headphones his friends had. However they weren’t and his friends were constantly making jokes about them.

28. ENACFIRE Wireless Earphones

MDX Sustainable Cup

Magician. Since he has had these earphones he loves the freedom that having wireless brings. He feels like they are magic when he uses them – the futuristic style contributes to this.

Caregiver. He bought this cup, for use at the university’s coffee shop, because he wanted to care for the environment. However, he felt that the quality wasn’t very good and the plastic started to smell unpleasant after a few uses.

29. Professional Milk Shaker

Apple Air Pods

Innocent. He bought this to enable him to make a particular kind of coffee that is enjoyed in his home nation, Greece. He feels that by using this machine, he is making the coffee in the right way and not cutting corners.

Ruler. He thought that this is a high-status recognisable product and that using them would give him status. However, they didn’t work well and he had to go back to the Apple store several times before they changed them, which made him “furious.”

30. Head Youtek Graphine Instinct Tennis Racket

Inter-rail Pass

Hero. This was an expensive racket, but she felt is was worth it for the competitive edge that it gave her. Her team mates were interested in it and started asking her for advice.

Explorer. This pass gave access to travel on European trains and she and her friends had them, hoping to explore Europe. Although they got access to the trains, often they had no seat and had to stand or sit in the corridor. Also, if they used it at night, they had to pay extra.

31. Bicycle

Basketball Training

Explorer. He bought a bicycle to explore the city and surrounding countryside, which he did. As a result of this he also got into other types of riding, such as BMX, trials etc.

Hero. He took up basketball training. Because he is not particularly tall, he expected that the coach would put him as a playmaker, where he could make decisions and carry the team to victory with decisive plays. However, he was put in a different position as the coach thought that he had a good shooting technique.

32. Basketball Knee Pads

iPhone

Hero. After he bought these cellular knee pads, he was more confident about diving for the ball. He was able to play more aggressively and help his teammates more.

Everyman. He bought an iPhone because a lot of his friends had them and this model had got good reviews. However once he had it, he preferred his old Android phone as be was used to that interface and features.

33. Go Karting

Swimming Float

Hero. He enjoys doing activities with his friends and is very competitive. One day they decided to try go-karting. When they got their lap times, he was faster than all his friends.

Explorer. When he was young he learned to swim with a float, which gave him a false sense of security. As an adult he tried to swim without one and almost drowned. After multiple attempts he quit.

34. Apple MacBook Pro

Graphics Drawing Tablet

Everyman. He bought this before he went to university as he saw lot of students with them and he wanted to fit in, which he did. The product also proved very valuable for the course he was doing in terms of its functionality.

Creator. He saw a lot of designers using this and thought that it would give him a creative advantage. Although using it felt professional, it was also difficult to use, meaning that he did not get the desired results.

35. 350 Lionel Messi Football Boots

Printers

Ruler. She bought these boots ahead of her trial for a Women’s Super League team. She sees the choice of boots as vital to a footballer and chose these as Messi is her inspiration. When she wears them she feels she can ‘boss’ the team.

Creator. As part of demonstrating her creativity she is often required to print things out. She finds that printers often go wrong – for example paper jams – and that error messages are often unintelligible. This usually makes her very stressed, which is also not a good frame of mind to be creative.

36. Mercedes Benz C Class

Fightsense Arm Isolator

Ruler. It had been a dream of his to get a Mercedes and when he drove it into university it was a dream come true. He felt “special, rich and safe” in the car. It also made him feel professional. On one occasion the autonomous braking system saved him form a crash.

Hero. This is for isolating the arms during exercise. He wanted a muscular body as he thought it looked heroic. However this was hard to use and made his muscles sore. When he saw that no-one else in the gym used one he felt embarrassed.

37. Acer Predator Helios 300 Laptop

Che Guevara Poster

Magician. He was not interested in the appearance of the machine, but picked it because of the hardware and then added carefully chosen software. This enabled him to learn and do new things and also meant that he could work outside the library because he had his own computer.

Outlaw. Che Guevara is someone he admires because he “promotes socialism and overthrows the incorrect.” He put this poster on his bedroom wall in his university accommodation because he wanted something meaningful that would reflect his values. However, when others came into his room, they didn’t know who Che Guevara was so it didn’t communicate his values.

38. Bluetooth Earphones

Bikini Swimming Top

Explorer. She was using wired earphones, but they got in the way when she went to the gym or did other exercise. When she got wireless ones she felt much more confident in the gym and tried new activities that took her out of her comfort zone.

Everywoman. When she was younger she moved from a religious to a mainstream school. She was used to dressing more conservatively for sport and wore a vest while the other girls wore sports bras. She decided to wear a bikini swimming top that she had, but the others knew it wasn’t a proper sports bra and made fun of her. When her mother discovered she was wearing it she was displeased and insisted she wear a vest.

39. Microsoft Surface 2 Laptop

Apple Air Pods

Everywoman. Before she had a laptop she felt singled out for not having one. When she got this she chose a light grey colour as she thought it looked simple. When she had it, she felt that she fitted in with the others in her high school.

Ruler. When she bought these she expected to stand out as they were expensive and high end. However, at first no one noticed and when they did they laughed at her for getting rid of the old ones, because the sound quality of those was better.

40. Emporio Armani Leather Watch

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Everyman. He asked for a watch for his 18th birthday and wanted one that was neither too showy or too simple. He felt that with this watch the balance was right. Few commented on it, but he thought it was functional and aesthetically pleasing. He felt that he was wearing a nice accessory when he had it on.

Everyman. He had the standard Galaxy S7 and wanted an upgrade. He was expecting that the S7 edge would be a minor step up, but in fact it was seen as being something special and attracted a lot of attention. Because of this he felt that people thought he was showing off by having it and felt uncomfortable.

41. Sony Experia M2 Aqua Phone

Cards Against Humanity

Outlaw. She chose this phone and paid for it herself, it was her first ever smartphone. Most of her friends had iPhones and mocked her for having an ‘inferior’ phone. But she was proud to have chosen something different and that she had taken responsibility for buying it herself.

Jester. She thought that she would be the Jester by having these cards as people liked playing and it was a new and funny thing. But then it became common to have them, making her feel like an Everywoman. Eventually her friends went off the game and it was seen as boring.

Footnotes

  1. In the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, the main Character Dorothy comes upon a pair of red shoes – known as the Ruby Slippers. They have magical powers , which puts her at odds with the Wicked Witch of the West, who tries to capture them from her. At the end of the movie, the slippers magically transport Dorothy home.
  2. Billy’s Boots was a popular British comic strip following the fortunes of Billy Dane a boy who found an old pair of football boots which had previously been owned by the footballer ‘Dead Shot’ Keen. When Billy wore the boots he was transformed from a mediocre to a fantastic footballer. The cartoon appeared in various UK comics over the years and was also translated into other languages, appearing in comics in many different countries.
  1. In the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, the main Character Dorothy comes upon a pair of red shoes – known as the Ruby Slippers. They have magical powers , which puts her at odds with the Wicked Witch of the West, who tries to capture them from her. At the end of the movie, the slippers magically transport Dorothy home.
  2. Billy’s Boots was a popular British comic strip following the fortunes of Billy Dane a boy who found an old pair of football boots which had previously been owned by the footballer ‘Dead Shot’ Keen. When Billy wore the boots he was transformed from a mediocre to a fantastic footballer. The cartoon appeared in various UK comics over the years and was also translated into other languages, appearing in comics in many different countries.