Save a napkin, save a tree: The role of metaphors in product design to change behavior

DS 75-7: Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED13), Design for Harmonies, Vol.7: Human Behaviour in Design, Seoul, Korea, 19-22.08.2013

Year: 2013
Editor: Udo Lindemann, Srinivasan V, Yong Se Kim, Sang Won Lee, John Clarkson, Gaetano Cascini
Author: Montazeri, Soodeh; Finkbiner, David; Papalambros, Panos; Gonzalez, Richard
Series: ICED
Institution: University of Michigan, United States of America
Page(s): 357-366
ISBN: 978-1-904670-50-6
ISSN:  2220-4334


In this paper we study the role of metaphorical design concepts in triggering a mindful consumption behavior. Through a retrospective study on persuasive metaphorical designs for behavior change, we identified 7 persuasive heuristics for using metaphors for behavior change. According to the ELM of persuasion and persuasive effect of visual metaphors, we hypothesized that the use of persuasive metaphors in design of a napkin dispenser increases the mindfulness of the users, presumably through a central route and would increase the probability that people make more informed decisions and use fewer napkins. We used persuasive metaphor heuristics to design a metaphorical napkin dispenser to inform people about the consequences of their excessive consumption on the environment and encouraged them to use fewer napkins. In a local coffee shop, we measured napkin consumption using three different napkin dispensers: the original dispenser with no metaphor, one dispenser that shows metaphorical connotations of sustainable consumption, and a dispenser with a non-conservation metaphor . The results suggest effective behavior change in response to the consumption related metaphorical design.

Keywords: Design metaphors, persuasive product design, behavior change, sustainable design, design heuristics


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