April 2020

The importance of exploring why people do what they do

As designers at FLUID, we are in the business of (re-) imagining what is possible (rather than what is probable). However, to design futures for people beyond of what they think is possible, it is crucial for us to transcend clichés, our own biases, and, instead, explore people’s real life experiences.

This means for our research practice to not only understand how people behave but also analyze why they behave the way they do.

Take Florian as example. He likes to meditate in the morning after waking up. He does this every day. That's what we can observe. It is HOW he behaves. But why does he do it? It is because he believes that meditating will help manage his anxiety. His motivation is to contribute to his sense of well-being.  

This highlights a fundamental distinction we make. Findings are what we may observe on a surface-level, while insights explain the root of the observed behaviour underneath the surface. Or, put differently, insights describe the motivations that drive behavior, while findings describe the behavior itself.

There are many challenges in the process of ethnographic research, however, we have found that a major one of them is to stay open to what is possible and discard our natural tendency towards the probable.

by Julian Krauss
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