Anna Ståhl new Doctor at SICS

25 March, 2015 - 11:20

Title: Designing for Interactional Empowerment

On March 20 Anna Ståhl successfully defended her PhD thesis at KTH.


This thesis further defines how to reach Interactional Empowerment through design for users. Interactional Empowerment is an interaction design program within the general area of affective interaction, focusing on the users’ abil­ity to reflect, express themselves and engage in profound meaning-making.

This has been explored through design of three systems eMoto, Affective Di­ary and Affective Health, which all mirror users’ emotions or bodily reactions in interaction in some way. From these design processes and users’ encoun­ters with the system I have extracted one experiential quality, Evocative Bal­ance, and several embryos to experiential qualities. Evocative Balance refers to interaction experiences in which familiarity and resonance with lived expe­rience are balanced with suggestiveness and openness to interpretation. The development of the concept of evocative balance is reported over the course of the three significant design projects, each exploring aspects of Interaction­al Empowerment in terms of representing bodily experiences in reflective and communicative settings. By providing accounts of evocative balance in play in the three projects, analyzing a number of other relevant interaction design experiments, and discussing evocative balance in relation to existing con­cepts within affective interaction, we offer a multi-grounded construct that can be appropriated by other interaction design researchers and designers.

This thesis aims to mirror a designerly way of working, which is recognized by its multigroundedness, focus on the knowledge that resides in the design pro­cess, a slightly different approach to the view of knowledge, its extension and its rigour. It provides a background to the state-of-the-art in the design communi­ty and exemplifies these theoretical standpoints in the design processes of the three design cases. This practical example of how to extend a designer’s knowledge can work as an example for design researchers working in a similar way.

Opponent: Professor Erik Stolterman, Indiana University
Supervisor: Professor Kristina Höök, KTH and SICS Swedish ICT