Tag Archives: Concept Evaluation

Empathy instruction backfires designers




Background: Empathy instruction (“please empathize with the person in the narrative”) is often provided when new product concepts are evaluated in a narrative form. However, concept evaluators tend to empathize with users differently; non-designers empathize with them insufficiently whereas designers do so sufficiently. Therefore, we expect that the effect of empathy instruction on concept evaluation will differ depending on the design expertise of individual evaluators. Empathy instruction will benefit non-designers whereas it may not benefit designers. We hypothesize that non-designers evaluate a concept more positively while designers evaluate the same concept more negatively when empathy instruction is provided than when it is not.

Methods: We conducted two studies with 74 practitioners (study 1) and 87 undergraduate students (study 2) by asking participants to evaluate a new service concept for long-distance communication. Half of the participants were provided with empathy instruction (“please watch a video clip about a long-distance couple”) and the other half were provided with control instruction (“please watch a video clip about nature). Then, we compared the concept evaluation scores between the two groups.



Results: The two studies showed that when the participants received control instruction, their concept evaluation scores between two groups did not differ. However, when they received empathy instruction, non-designers’ concept evaluation scores increased whereas designers’ concept evaluation scores decreased.

Conclusion: Our findings highlight the dark side of empathy in concept evaluation. When empathy instruction is provided for narrative concept evaluation, it needs to be used carefully depending on the individual concept evaluators. More discussions are needed for customized empathy.



Concept evaluation, design expertise, empathy instructon, narrative concept, new product development



Decision support tool for collaborative concept evaluation

Although concept evaluation has attracted much attention, collaborative concept evaluation has received minimal attention. In this work, we identify problems and propose solutions regarding collaborative concept evaluation. First, we reviewed past projects and interviewed evaluators with international design experiences to conclude that concept evaluation criteria are not established but constructed. Second, we apply the psychology of Brunswik’s Lens model to propose that providing multiple concept aspects improve collaborative concept evaluation. Three experimental studies demonstrate that our proposed Concept Aspect Profile (CAP) model (1) is superior to existing concept evaluation models, (2) differentiates between breakthrough new product concepts and incremental new product concepts, and (3) increases the likelihood that a concept receives the Industrial Design Excellence Award (IDEA). This work contributes to marketing research of concept evaluation as well as provides implication for designers.