Models of the user: designers’ perspectives on influencing sustainable behaviour

Dan Lockton, David Harrison, Neville A. Stanton


Influencing more environmentally friendly and sustainable behaviour is a current focus of many projects, ranging from government social marketing campaigns, education and tax structures to designers’ work on interactive products, services and environments. There is a wide variety of techniques and methods used, intended to work via different sets of cognitive and environmental principles. These approaches make different assumptions about ‘what people are like’: how users will respond to behavioural interventions, and why, and in the process reveal some of the assumptions that designers and other stakeholders, such as clients commissioning a project, make about human nature.

This paper discusses three simple models of user behaviour – the pinball, the shortcut and the thoughtful – which emerge from user experience designers’ statements about users while focused on designing for behaviour change. The models are characterised using systems terminology and the application of each model to design for sustainable behaviour is examined via a series of examples.


policy behaviour

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@Annual Review of Policy Design ISSN: ISSN 2291-6989