The passive dimension of empathy and its relevance for design

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


  • Full Text

    Final published version, 263 KB, PDF document

Empathy has become an essential concept for coarticulating design's creative efficacy and allocentricity. While subject to many definitions, a common methodological interest has tended to cast empathy as a tool, used deliberately and reflectively. The result has been an emphasis on the intentional, reflective, and interpretively rich dimensions of empathy over their automatic and inchoate foundations. Uncovering the “passive” dimension of empathy helps put empathy's role in design in a new perspective. It illuminates the role of empathy in the most basic tasks of design and differentiates the contributions of empathy from those of reflective and imaginative techniques. Taking passivity into account can consequently mediate disputes about the role of empathy in design and guide methodological choices in design projects.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDesign Studies
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 340700366