Decoding empathy

This is a systems project done with Supreetha krishnan, Awanee Joshi, Shefali Bohra and Vaidehie Chiplumkar.

Empathy is a common word that we throw around everyday, especially as designers. For every human interaction or any system that involves human interaction, empathy is an important tool. The intent of this project was to intervene in those systems by decoding empathy, decoding what makes up empathy. Being able to measure empathy can be useful for a situation and also for a self.

After ten weeks of research and discussions, empathy was decoded into 5 parameters. This understanding of empathy was taken further to design a series of high-fidelity and low fidelity outcomes.

In order to understand empathy, we started looking at it through four lenses, namely Psychology, Neuroscience, Behavioural science and aspects associated with lack of empathy.

Based on the research, we broke down the mental process of encountering an event and taking an action into a flowchart consisting of various steps. It is represented here in the form of an empathy factory.

After breaking down the mental process, we were able to extract 5 basic parameters that govern levels of empathy in an individual in an event.

Our childhood memories and experiences shape our lives and make us who we are. Many values that we learn as a child stick with us for life. In order to build empathy in society, it is necessary to introduce it to children in their formative years.

The Empathy Playbook is another  long term outcome that could be used for kids. It consists of five sections for our 5 parameters. Every section has 5 exercises based on each parameter. The aim of this book is to create an awareness about empathy and the five parameters that affect empathy in a new way. This would be a gradual slow process but would be effective in the long run.

The Empathy playbook can be used in schools. The teacher acts as the facilitator and carries out various activities. The book would be introduced to children at the age of 10 years to 15 years.

The outcome of this course was presented to the NID community in the form of an exhibition. Here are a few snaps.