Interview with Lee Jangbae

By Virve Boesch

This April (2021), three graduating CoID students presented their thesis work. The thesis presented were:

Esteban Solis Castelan: The right experience: Designing for user and brand experience through the alignment of experience goals 

Sebastian Högnabba: Aesthetics-Driven Design of Facade-Integrated Photovoltaic Glass Panels for the Urban Environment

Jangbae Lee: Dealing with FOMO through emotional design

Dealing with Fomo through emotional design | Image credit – Jangbae Lee

Congratulations to all! Today, we get to know about Lee Jangbaes thesis, as he answers some questions about his work.

V: Hello, and thank you so much for agreeing to tell us about your thesis. First, could you give us a quick introduction to your thesis topic in your own words?

J: Sure. My thesis is about creating experience-driven design solutions through the emotional design approach. The purpose is to help social media users deal with FOMO, short for “fear of missing out.”

V: And what got you interested in this topic?

J: I got interested in emotional design as I realized how important emotion is in our experiences and how much it affects our decisions. I also got thinking about current situations with a negative impact on our well-being. At that time, many people were talking about issues related to social media. As a social media user, I have experienced FOMO, and I believed my friends had, too. By choosing this topic, I hoped to contribute at least a little bit to improve our daily lives.

V: How was the start of the process for you?

J: At first, there were some difficulties because FOMO is a relatively recent concept in academic studies. When I started the literature review, I discovered no model explaining all the different components related to FOMO existed. Bits and pieces of FOMO construct were here and there. Also, as most studies are from societal psychology, the terminology was unfamiliar to me. I had to collect as much data as possible and try to understand the psychological perspective. Besides, emotions are an immense topic. 

V: What made you choose interviews as one of the research methods? 

J: Well, during that time, the pandemic hit, and I had to choose something we could do remotely. Interviews are a commonly used method, but at the same time, I discovered remote interviews permit people to talk about their experience in their own, comfortable environment. I also used Mural as a tool to facilitate the conversation.

V: Can you tell us a little bit more about your experiences with remote interviews?

J: I think the main challenge was how to help people to immerse themselves in the context and recall moments when they felt FOMO. I wanted to try context mapping, which allows us to see the participants as the experts of their everyday life experience and the designer as the innovation process expert. In the activity, the participants selected image cards that, for them, presented moments of FOMO. Then, they chose emotion cards corresponding to the images and reflected on their previous experience. The emotion cards include expressions of face and words and four questions about the situation, goals, intention, and how one wishes to improve the situation.

V: Could you describe the process leading to your outcomes? 

J: It seems that we often think that we should remove all the negative emotions to create a good experience. But talking with my advisor helped me understand that negative emotions can also be beneficial when under certain conditions. For example, small amounts of envy can motivate people to achieve their desired goals. But I also wanted to find out if other negative emotions could be functioning this way. Also, with experience design, we need to understand the whole journey and the feelings before and after the event. Researching those two points led me to the insights, namely the process view of the FOMO type 2, caused by social comparison. Also, usually, emotion is considered a subjective matter. But it was interesting to see that even though people have different backgrounds and personalities, they experience similar feelings concerning FOMO. We usually sense envy or insecurity first, transforming to annoyance or doubt and leading to guilt. So not only is there a pattern, but also a particular order. Based on those emotions, there are different action tendencies and how participants wish to improve the situations. For example, if we feel annoyed, we usually try to control the situation and solve it. But if we are envious, we want to achieve the object of our envy. Envy was identified as having a potential benefit to leverage, while other emotions were identified as something to remove. Five experience-driven solutions were created based on those findings.

V: If you think back to working on your thesis, is there something you found either particularly challenging or positive?

J: My experience with the interviews was a very positive one, as people were open-minded to talk about their struggles. Also, after I created the prototypes, I conducted user testing and received good feedback on them. People commented on how the proposed improvements would help solve their problems, which was very rewarding.

Link to the source of useful information | Image Credit – Jangbae Lee
Theme creation for filtering | Image Credit – Jangbae Lee

V: That’s great to hear. Are you thinking of continuing somehow with these topics or using them in your work?

J: I want to apply the emotional design approach in my work, and I just talked with one of the lead designers in my company about utilizing this approach. In many companies, we use customer journey maps, but often, they lack information about the customers’ emotions in depth. So I’d like to add that perspective. I’d also like to continue researching this topic and perhaps submit it as a conference paper. And, of course, as my main focus of the study was to improve the well-being of social media users, I’m also thinking about how to bring the possible solutions forward. I believe there’s potential there, as digital well-being is becoming essential. 

V: Do you have any memorable experiences or tips for future thesis writers?

J: I’m thankful to my advisor Haian Xue and supervisor Tuuli Mattelmäki. They opened a new world to me, and I was happy to have them with me in this process. As a tip, I’d say to avoid working a full-time job while also writing your thesis, if possible. It took me about a year or a year and a half to write my thesis, and during that time, it was sometimes hard to find that work-personal life balance. I’m very grateful to my fiancee for supporting me! And another tip for students is that no matter what topics we choose, they’re always valuable, even though we might not feel like they are. I’m speaking from experience as I also felt that and could witness my friends going through similar thoughts. But I think all topics are always valuable for someone, and especially for our learning.

Thanks again to Jangabae for telling us about his thesis and possible future endeavours. You can find his work here (link: https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi/handle/123456789/107029).