Julia Lindpaintner

MFA Thesis

A blog documenting my journey creating a Master's thesis towards an MFA from the School of Visual Arts' Products of Design program.

Week 2 — Sketches, Prototypes, Titles

My Week 2 assignment: 100 Sketches, 3 prototypes, 3 titles (with branding) 

My sketches—

These pages of sketches show my exploration of aspects of the criminal justice system, a comparison of the disciplines and output of behavioral science and design, and some ideation around architecture/product design that would communicate the strength and stability afforded by collaboration—and a bunch of other stuff.

My prototypes—

I served on a grand jury in June 2016. It was an incredibly interesting but rather troubling experience. One of the most surprising things about the process was how little instruction we received on how to deliberate or take a vote. We ended up raising our hands to vote, and indicting in almost every case. To reduce the bias towards certain verdicts and minimize the pressure of social proof that exists in that scenario, I designed an app that jury members would use to submit their vote. This would not only ensure that they took each vote seriously, but would provide a way to collect information that might prevent wrongful indictments (e.g. if there were many abstentions). The app is informed by several behavioral principles and findings, such as the increased honesty induced by signing first, and introducing friction rather than setting defaults.

Learning about behavioral science principles and methodology this summer made me very aware of some shortcomings of design research. One of the biggest missed opportunities I see is that designers generally don't share their research findings, let alone their raw data. This is understandable, as much of design is done on behalf of clients and within strict terms, but it means that the design community is not able to build a base of knowledge as effectively or efficiently. To begin to respond to this need, I designed a "design research directory," which would not only aggregate design research from different companies and organizations (starting with projects funded by foundations or in the social good sector), but offer a specific framework for reporting and recording the research, akin to the standardization of scientific papers in journals.


My third prototype was interactive. I wanted to see if I could replicate the "Endowment Effect" and possibly the "Ikea Effect" with my classmates. I gave half of them paper cranes that I had already folded, and half pieces of paper with instructions on how to fold them. Once they were done, I asked them to write down a price for which they would sell their crane. I asked the other half of my class (in a different section) to write down what they would pay for a paper crane, and showed them an example. The endowment effect held: The classmates who had been given cranes asked for an average of $1.20, but the other group was only willing to pay $1.06. The Ikea Effect, however, did not show up in this small section... 

My titles—

I came up with three potential titles for my thesis—none of which are quite right yet. "Hacking Human Nature" was inspired by Common Cents tagline "Hacking Human Behavior," and was well-received. The idea of "reducing the cognitive burden of prosocial behavior" resonates with me.

How I'm feeling—

Since you scrolled all the way down to here, I'm going to let you in on a little secret:
I'm going to do more and worry less. I'm going to follow my curiosity and attack my findings with vigor. I have also decided that everything I do is for my thesis, which means I can do whatever I want to do, as long as I pay attention. 

After all, If I'm not having fun, I'm doing it wrong.

Julia LindpaintnerComment