Journal of Motivation, Emotion, and Personality

Reversal Theory Studies

Found in Translation: Bringing Reversal Theory to Design for Play

Authors: Mathieu A. Gielen, Lieselotte van Leeuwen

Abstract: In the design of objects for children’s play, support from psychology is often sought in general developmental overviews, typologies of play, and age-related performance and preference descriptions. These sources may give an insight into global aspects of child development but have limited utility for understanding the situated motivations of an individual child. Theories that take an experiential view on behavior, such as reversal theory, have the potential to feed designers with a perspective on the dynamics of children’s personality, changing motivations and emotions. The potential contribution of reversal theory to design for play was explored in practice: postgraduate students cooperated with design tutors and psychology tutors during a design course to create an object for children’s play informed and inspired by reversal theory. Over three consecutive editions of the course, we gathered experiences in supporting idea development or play using reversal theory. Results of the project are presented in form of criteria for adequate framing of the theory in the context of design for play and the resulting modular description of reversal theory. An evaluation of students’ incorporation of reversal theory in design ideation is provided and illustrated with examples of design ideas for play.

Link to Article: 2014-v3-04-Gielen-van Leeuwen-Design-for-Play

DOI: 10.12689/jmep.2014.304

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