The Central Role of Empathy in Service Design
Authors: Rita Almendra, Fernando Moreira Da Silva
Abstract: Empathy is commonly defined as “the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes i.e. to truly see the world through others eyes in a given context or situation. This is particularly important in Service Design since it means that we are designing relationships. To do so implies a process of deep understanding and connection with different persons having a multitude of visions of the world, ways of behaving and acting. Having this central relevance Empathy is a compulsory condition to any Ser-vice Design project, being the engine both of the design thinking process and the design action process. In methodological terms this paper addresses this central role of Empathy and discloses it through the concatenation of literature review and the presentation of Design student’s service projects (developed in the Service Design Course from the Design graduation program at FA ULisbon), done with a social de-sign focus and developed in a specific conjuncture: the Covid pandemics. This peculiar context challenged the way the activities of observing and engaging with people occurred, making it hard to set aside assumptions, thus suspending each student own view of the world around her/him. The critical assessment and discussion of the results of these group design projects allowed us to develop some tactics in order to overcome the constraints imposed by the pandemics. Hopefully this reflection will somehow contribute to the design area of Education and it is in itself an empathic gesture towards the Design education agents.
Keywords: Empathy, Service Design, Design Education
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