Curiosity and experience design: developing the desire to know and explore in ways that are sociable, embodied and playful
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Curiosity, as a strong motivator for exploration and discovery, has long been an underexplored but important emotional response in relation to technology. This research considers that it has great potential to improve many aspects of the user experience, especially in today’s screen-saturated context. However, engaging curiosity by novelty and uncertainty may exhaust attentional strength and challenge usability. Thus, the purpose of this research is to find ways to foster the human trait of curiosity and avoid its negative effects. To gain an in-depth understanding of curiosity, the first chapter reviews cross-disciplinary literature to expand its role in improving user experience. This ranges from serving as an attention grabber to including the values that contribute to human survival, thriving, emotional resilience, and personal development. The second chapter identifies problems in the current curiosity-provoking design methods. The chapter also emphasises design for supporting active curiosity and avoiding the creation of purely novel stimuli. This approach is to encourage active curiosity to develop. To this end, the research proceeds to conduct observational studies at a museum to broaden our understanding of factors that influence people’s curiosity and exploration within a screen-mediated context. Based on these observations, I identified that there are three conceptual elements: sociability, embodiment, and playfulness. Through theoretical discussion and reflection upon the design examples, subsequent three chapters explore the relationship between curiosity and each conceptual element. The chapters also suggest several design approaches that embrace curiosity in relation to its social, embodied, and playful nature. These include creating a sense of co-curiosity, allowing the use of covert and overt curiosity-satisfying strategies, increasing bodily exploration affordances of the screen for linking curiosity with embodiment, using metaphors of the body-screen relationship, and developing possibilities and adding enchanting effects for eliciting playfulness to enrich curiosity. In essence, this research enhances our understanding of the user experience from the perspective of curiosity, and these design suggestions also help to embrace users’ active curiosity in developing sociable, embodied, and playful well-being in the age of ubiquitous screens.