white lie

Design challenge

It was a typical issue in design that what users said didn’t mean what they did. Apart from interviews and some other qualitative research methods, is there any other way we could research users true thinking? Through the topic of white lie, we studied how debate could figure out users’ behavior and thinking in design.



September, 2017 - November, 2017

Team project

Research through design




The problem

We wouldn’t know users’ true opinion towards this topic through interviews unless they had experienced it. Therefore, we needed to let users ‘tested‘ white lie first and then gather their feedback.

We designed a white lie ‘test‘ that an anonymous individual (us) hosted a campaign to fight for students’ rights and collect their personal data. The data would be exposed to ‘hackers (us)‘ after which we would inform students the importance of privacy protection. The intention was to inform students the significance of personal data by telling an extreme white lie.



distribute ‘questionnaires‘

We made questionnaires that asked students to sign their names and email addresses to be involved in the campaign. The questionnaires were distributed everywhere in a building so that the information could spread out quickly.

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get ‘feedback‘

After the data was collected, we sent ‘spams‘ to the people to create a situation that their data was hacked. After that, we apologized to them, explaining the design purpose, and asked for their feedback regarding white lie.

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debate for insight

Eventually, we invited 20 people who suffered from our design to join a debate regarding ‘whether white lie is good or not‘. We let participants argued with each other so that their opinions could be fully illustrated.

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The research successfully witnessed the great difference between users’ saying and behavior. They admitted the advantages of white lie on the one hand, but reacted aggressively on the other hand.

The debate form was able to help designers understand users’ thinking deeply when users argued with each other. Also, the debate may influence users’ thinking and saying as the results between and after the debate were different, which designers should pay attention to in research.


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