ROLE: Academic Researcher; Graphic Designer; Data Visualizer; Storyteller
THE CHALLENGE: Elucidate a public problem and design a solution by bringing scientific findings on emotion to bear on it.
TIMEFRAME: 6 weeks
SOLUTION: Conduct rigorous academic research regarding the relationship between emotion and food-related decision making. Distill and utilize the findings to develop theories for reducing the barriers the food industry faces in promoting health. Develop and design a succinct and clear persuasive speech. Incorporate feedback from peers into a final op-ed piece to submit to news agencies.
SKILLS USED: Expert Review; Taxonomies; Value Proposition; Brainstorming; Storyboards; Blueprint; Sketching; Design Library; Paper Prototyping; Qualitative Feedback;
BEHAVIORAL INSIGHTS USED: Persuasive Presentation; Negotiations;
TOOLS USED: Illustrator; InDesign; PhotoShop; NounProject; Word; PsycARTICLES; PsycINO; GoogleScholar; COLOURlovers, Kuler
PLANNING & RESEARCH
Expert Review: Having spent most of my degree working on research in food-related behavior and obesity, I had a particular interest in the realistic barriers preventing the food industry from acting on behalf of public health. After speaking with the previous President of Stop n' Shop I was alerted to the primary problems that supermarkets and food manufacturers face in improving the health of their products or the presentation of their products. This inspired a direction in what type of behaviors I was looking for that could be altered by emotional states and that provided a thoughtful value proposition to these companies. I then brainstormed with a leader in Affective Science, Jennifer Lerner, for how to discover robust literature within this field.
Taxonomies: After an exhaustive search of PsycARTICLES, PsycINFO, and GoogleScholar for peer-reviewed and frequently-cited literature related to emotions and food-related decision making, I began developing taxonomies of the research themes. In doing so, I was able to illuminate the robustness of the themes and identify two in particular to apply to my thesis.
Color Design: After developing my argument I began working on the design of the presentation. I used a the site, COLOURlovers, for preliminary research of color palettes used for "science" + "presentation" and filtered by most liked and most downloaded. I then used Kuler to develop my own color palette based upon clarity of information and its relatedness to the content. I decided to use "red" as my accent because it represented the studies that utilized "romantic love" as an independent variable and could also be easily visually tied to food (i.e. strawberries).
Font Selection: Quicksand, a Sans Serif font, was the natural selection since "clarity" was one of my key goals in the presentation. Where I could I would reduce the number of words I was using and/or replace them with visualizations.
Graphic Design: I utilized the website, NounProject, to develop the majority of my images with a consistent style. This allowed me to devote more time on interpreting and designing the visualizations from the research I would be presenting.
Persuasive Presentation: The behavioral science of negotiations was a helpful structure for exploring arguments that would resonate with my target audience: supermarkets and food manufacturers. It was important that I demonstrated empathy, clearly communicated my story, and inspired an easy-to-remember call to action. I then practiced everyday for 2 weeks and presented the speech as I would to key stakeholders. The following is the final version of the slide deck as it was presented:
Qualitative Feedback: My peers and mentor thoughtfully evaluated my presentation on the quality of my thesis, the evidence provided, and the conclusions I drew. They elaborated on the strengths as well as areas for improvement. The following are snippets from their feedback that I would use to incorporate into my op-ed.
Issues: The feedback I received was generally very positive regarding the design of the presentation, my performance, and the application of the selected research. Although many people understood the problem I was trying to address, there were still many who were not able to identify my premise, suggesting to me that this was an area that I still needed to improve. Other peers raised bigger issues with the general actors that I chose to approach, highlighting important arenas to pursue in future discussions.
Results: With the remaining week I had left to integrate this feedback I focused my efforts on increasing the clarity of the problem I was addressing. After another seven revisions with additional feedback from trusted mentors and colleagues, I submitted the following piece as my final op-ed: