2 April 2013

An uplifting experience – the ethnography of the elevator user experience

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Rebekah Rousi, a researcher of user psychology and PhD candidate of Cognitive Science at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, describes on EthnographyMatters how the combination of qualitative and quantitative data collection was fruitful in her analysis of elevator usage.

“A few years ago a leading elevator design and manufacturing company gave me the task of examining how people experienced and interacted with elevators. The scope included everything from hall call buttons, to cabin interior design and perception of technical design. When given the brief, the artistic director noted country specific design features (or omissions) and even mentioned that there may be observable elevator habits I would want to take note of. Then, on our bidding a corporate-academic farewell she added that I might want to consider the psychology of the surrounding architectural environment. With that, I was left with a long list of to-do’s and only one method I could think of that would be capable of incorporating so many factors – ethnography. Ethnographic inquiry provides a framework in which the researcher’s own observations and experiences of the phenomenon under study – in this case elevator users’ behaviour in relation to the elevators, other users and the surrounding architectural environment – can be combined with “insiders’” opinions and insights.”

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