Empathy Between Designers in the Design Synthesis Stage

Xiuxiu Wu, Kin Wai Michael Siu, Jörn Bühring

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Design synthesis is the most challenging stage of the design process because the problem and solution need to be linked to discover the best solution. Designers need to use convergent thinking to ensure the usefulness and practicality of the ideas generated by divergent thinking in other stages. Handling the pressure of an argumentative and judgmental atmosphere is challenging and involves persuasion and compromise to reach a common goal. If not handled properly, this will generate more arguments and increase cognitive pressure, resulting in a diminished design outcome. Empathy plays an essential role in design research and practice. There are multiple ways to improve designers’ empathy involving research techniques, communication skills, and self-reflection. Empathy-related measurement tools or assessment questions are used as assessment criteria when companies recruit and evaluate new product development. While most studies have emphasized end-users, how designers’ empathy affects the design process has been seldom explored, particularly in relation to the pressure and disagreements associated with design synthesis. This paper draws upon previous studies to consider the entanglement of empathy among designers during the design synthesis stage and how it affects design outcomes. We conclude that empathy is a way to alleviate pressure in the design synthesis stage, but it compromises the design outcome by putting the spotlight on designers instead of on end-users or on the problem itself. In this regard, designers need to overcome the impulse to alleviate pressure even when under cognitive pressure in an argumentative environment. The reason for this behavior is that convergence based on deliberative reasoning and cooperation is more convincing towards design outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHCI International 2022 – Late Breaking Posters - 24th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, HCII 2022, Proceedings
EditorsConstantine Stephanidis, Margherita Antona, Stavroula Ntoa, Gavriel Salvendy
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9783031196782
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2022
Event24th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, HCII 2022 - Virtual, Online
Duration: 26 Jun 20221 Jul 2022

Publication series

NameCommunications in Computer and Information Science
Volume1654 CCIS
ISSN (Print)1865-0929
ISSN (Electronic)1865-0937


Conference24th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, HCII 2022
CityVirtual, Online


  • Cognitive empathy
  • Design synthesis
  • Designers
  • Empathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • General Mathematics


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