Three factors for contextmapping in East Asia: Trust, control and nunchi

Helma van Rijn, Yoonnyong Bahk, Pieter Jan Stappers, Kun Pyo Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Contextmapping techniques have been tried and tuned for participants in Western cultures and are known to provide inspiration in the conceptual phase of design. Because these techniques rely heavily on activities such as expressing feelings in public and discussing in groups, they are less attuned to participants from more ‘reserved’ cultures, e.g. East Asia. In this project we adapted the techniques for use with East Asian participants. Our findings indicate that, when conducted in appropriate forms, contextmapping techniques can work in East Asia. However, more than in the West, a well-demarcated script is needed. By ‘script’ we mean a construct that frames the roles of the participants and the researcher, and provides a clear stage on which the participant plays the role of ‘expert of his experience’ and outside of which he/she is free from the burden of expressing him- or herself. The importance of a script in East Asia led us to review the value of scripting and staging as design parameter for the techniques in general.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-177
Number of pages23
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Contextmapping
  • Cultural differences
  • Design research
  • Participatory design
  • User study


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