Inside your heart, outside the world.

Reflective Level (part1: Theories and Concepts)

on March 26, 2012

What is reflective level about?

    “Reflective design covers a lot of territory. It is all about message, about culture, and about the meaning of a product or its use. For one, it is about the meaning of things, the personal remembrances something evokes. For another, very different thing, it is about self-image and the message a product sends to others.”


How can we understand reflective design?

Not like the levels visceral and behavioral that are all about “now”, reflective level extends much longer— through reflection you remember the past and contemplate the future, therefore, reflective design is about long-term relations, about the feelings of satisfaction produced by owning, displaying, and using a product. A person’s self-identity is located within the reflective level, and here is where the interaction between the product and your identity is important as demonstrated in pride (or shame) of ownership or use.

It is only at the reflective level that consciousness and the highest levels of feeling, emotions, and cognition reside. It is only here that the full impact of both thought and emotions are experienced. At the lower visceral and behavioral levels, there is only affect, but without interpretation or consciousness. Interpretation, understanding, and reasoning come from the reflective level.

Of the three levels, the reflective one is the most vulnerable to variability through culture, experience, education, and individual differences. This level can also override the others. There is one other distinction among the levels: time.

People’s increasing needs:

The left part is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which lists from the basic physiological need to the high-level need self-actualization. The right part is about the needs for what people expect from the products, from functional to pleasurable.

As we can see , people’s needs are increasing and expanding step by step, level by level. Thus people are more satisfied if their deeper needs being met.

Why we need reflective design? 

  • Reflective design can meet the higher level of people’s needs, which can evoke and satisfy people’s deep emotions
  • Reflective design can help keep long-term passionate users
  • Make products great rather than ordinary

Something that we should keep in mind for the reflective design:

  • Design for culture
  • Design for people
  • Transform the focus from products to service, from quality to experience.
  • Explore the potantial meaning of the objects and the relationships between the user and product.
  • Make people feel in control and empowered

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