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Eco-Feedback Designs: A Balance Between the Quantitative and the Emotional

[+] Author Affiliations
Qifang Bao, Maria C. Yang

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Mian Mobeen Shaukat

King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Asmaa Elantary

Jubail University College, Jubail, Saudi Arabia

Paper No. DETC2016-59376, pp. V007T06A022; 12 pages
  • ASME 2016 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 28th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, August 21–24, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5019-0
  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME


Eco-feedback design is a strategy for encouraging sustainable behavior by making users aware of the resources they consume. Reminding users of their resource usage can help them understand the environmental impacts of their actions and evoke feelings such as sympathy or responsibility for the environment. This study investigated two aspects of presenting resource usage information in eco-feedback designs: the quantitative clarity of the information, and the strength of emotion evoked by the designs. This paper examines how these two aspects of eco-feedback influence users’ perception and preference for the designs. Four design prompts with different levels of quantitative clarity and emotion were used to generate 16 designs. An online survey with these designs was distributed among students at four universities in two countries. Results from 216 valid responses showed evidence that both the quantitative and emotional aspects are important to the eco-feedback designs. The survey also gathered data about respondents’ knowledge about resource consumption. Results suggested that students in technical majors were generally better at estimating resource consumption, and tended to prefer designs with more quantitative data. In contrast, students in non-technical majors generally made less accurate estimates and tended to prefer designs that evoke stronger emotions. These findings could inform designers on how to make more effective eco-feedback designs to promote sustainable behaviors.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME
Topics: Feedback



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