Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Designing Compassion Cultivating Interactions for Life Transitions
by Prabhakar, Annu Sible, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2019, 240; 13900709
Abstract (Summary)

Life transitions are an integral part of human experience. People experience multiple life transitions, such as getting married, receiving a disease diagnosis, surviving violence, starting a new job, becoming a parent, and bereavement. Research shows that lack of support during transitions can adversely affect the overall wellness of individuals as their existing patterns of interactions, support needs, routines, roles and identities change, causing breakdown in communications and strains in relationships. Social support can act as a buffer against the potential detrimental effects of life transitions. Even though designing social support interventions is a well-established design space in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) research, intervention design as viewed through the lens of life transition is not.

My dissertation research has focused on a specific life transition, the transition to motherhood, as a case study. My early studies on social support during this transition identified significant gaps in the expected and received support for new mothers going through this stressful transition. My efforts to narrow this gap by designing a technology solution to better connect new mothers with their supporters uncovered a potential stumbling block that can influence the effectiveness of any support intervention - a lack of motivation in supporters to use the designed intervention to help. As a result, I investigated the pathways and mechanisms that influence social connectedness and desire to help on the part of support providers, and identified compassion as a motivating construct for supportive interactions. Understanding and analysis of the very components of compassionate interactions, motivating factors, and triggers of compassionate interactions have been lacking. There is no well-defined set of solutions for this "wicked problem".

My dissertation brought attention to the as-yet unexamined design space of designing for compassion cultivation. My research involved co-evolution of the problem space and the solution space along with the methodologies that connect them. This co-evolution necessitated a continuous re-framing of the context, starting with a wide-frame view of maternal wellness through the lens of social support and focusing to a narrow frame of transitional support through the lens of compassion. Using transition to motherhood as a case study, I developed a framework for designing socio-technical interventions for compassion cultivation during life transitions. Technology interventions based on this framework can help create more effective, meaningful, and supportive digital ecosystems that facilitate compassionate interactions to help individuals overcome challenges and thrive during stressful life transitions. I also present an exemplar prototype of an intervention for compassion cultivating intervention.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Stolterman, Erik
Commitee: Ĺ abanovic, Selma, Connelly, Kay, Siegel, Marty
School: Indiana University
Department: Informatics
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 81/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Information Technology, Computer science, Information science
Keywords: Compassion, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Interaction design, Life transition, Mother, Social support
Publication Number: 13900709
ISBN: 9781085605359
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