First, I asked participants to take an open-ended survey describing the following:
1) Their definition of “emotional support”
2) Moments and situations for which they need emotional support the most
3) objects, people, and activities that provide the support they need and how.
Results were varied in terms of how closely the contents of the packages resembled or deviated from their survey responses.
In development towards my thesis research, I experimented with methods of co-design, also known as participatory design, where concepts are designed with the designer and the user working together. I framed my co-design activity around the user’s personal idea of emotional support.
Next, I had two participants who took the survey go through a series of activities. They were first asked to create persona posters of someone who was emotionally distressed. Then, I asked participants to create an emotional support package for their persona. Finally, I asked participants to switch the personas and make a second package for them.
For the second package, both participants made packages that deviated from their personal idea of emotional support. Instead, both prioritized humor and short affirmations as a way to support someone else.