Decision-making & Well-being
After World War II, the government implanted the idea that “consumption leads to happiness” into society in attempt to recover and rescue the global economy. Since then, a play on Descartes famous quote, “I shop therefore I am”, became a popular slogan and shopping as a leisure activity in modern life flourished. Decades later, this activity has been passed from generation to generation and has moulded itself into our everyday lifestyle. Because of this consumer behavioural change, consumption gradually became fundamental in the global economy. However, this economical strategy has caused problems that people did not expect. For example, sustainability has been emphasised as a matter of question in recent years, while more recently, the issue of well-being of people in modern society has been noted.
So, how does well-being relate to decision-making? Anxiety is a key factor which influences people’s emotions and can also affect them physically. We are faced with more decisions to make and options to choose from than those from previous generations. Present research shows that mulling over a few options may weigh heavily on your mind, which could cause exhaustion and unnecessary stress.
An easy but unrealistic solution to this problem would be training people to make quick and accurate decisions; analytical and calculated like that of a computer. However, the highlighted issue is how to eliminate the anxiety factor and to comfort people in their choices, allowing those to enjoy the success of the verdict rather than letting them suffer during the process. It is important to encourage people to believe that their results are in the best interest for them.
This project is based on the exploration of well-being relating to decision-making. In this context, I used educational methods and playful elements in order to increase one’s ability of self-evaluation.
Perception 1 – Randomness
Decision-making Compass Kit
When we are facing too many choices (information overload), and each option has equal value, it is difficult to organize or prioritize those options. Things cannot be put in to order.
In this case, I chose office play as a scenario. Once people work in the office, their lives have routine. People take the same route and arrive office at nine o’clock in the morning, probably having lunch at the place they always been at one o’clock, and are off work at five in the afternoon. It can begin to be boring when the same things happen day after day. When people have tried all the restaurants around their office, the difficulty of choosing what to eat becomes a challenge.
The Decision-making Compass Kit reflects the environment of the office. It combines two handy tools at an office desk – the pen and post it note. Users don’t need to be anxious about what to eat anymore. They simply write down their choices on the four post its, spin the pen as a pointer on the top of the column, and when the pen stops spinning, it will be pointing to one of the choices. Thus they get a randomly selected answer.
This stationery set functions as an amusing office tool. Office workers can use it as a playful way to decide where to go to lunch, who to invite to dinner, which project to go ahead with, and solve other multi-option dilemmas.
The Decision-making Compass Kit is a twist of everyday objects and as random as a dice. It gives its user the opportunity to play with the decision. Through the process, they may even find their own answer if they are unhappy with the random result.
Perception 2 – Evaluation
Self-evaluation is a key concept in my research. There is no object which can make decisions for people, unless people trust it. Belief is one thing I want to communicate in this perception.
I looked at the scenario of a Bible on the hotel bedside table. It used for praying before people go to bed. The Bible is an archetype of self-development and it represents faith in a greater destiny. I wanted to combine it with faith in oneself, so I made a book which combines a Bible and a diary.
The Bibary is a diary plus twelve decision-making exercises. After users have done the exercises, they can evaluate their decisions and keep them being documented. This ritual is an internal journey, a personal narrative, and a sense of decision-making built on the logic of the person him/herself.
Bibary is a therapeutic book which encourages people to go through and document their journey. The purpose of this book is to improve people’s decision making through documenting their choices and by completing one of the many decision making exercises found in the Bibary. Until the “real life” result of the decision reveals itself, users can evaluate their decisions by marking on the “Good“ or “Bad“ scale on the side of each page in this book.
It contains 12 chapters with 12 exercises, each providing a thought process or analytical methods. Users have to complete it by themselves and evaluate the result. Through these exercises, they progress a pre-programmed experience. By achieving those tasks, users gather their ability to face more complex decisions.
Perception 3 – Fear
The BioBox is an anxiety detector which can measure users' stress level and reflect it in colours. The user only needs to place his or her hand into the BioBox. The hidden galvanic skin response sensor will rank one's electricity conductive level from the skin. Then, based on this biometrics figure, the colourful LED lights on the bottom of the box will stop blinking and highlight a specific colour. The highest level of stress is represented by red. Decreasing stress levels are represented in the following colour order: orange, yellow, purple, blue and green.
Being under stress and fear can affect the efficiency and satisfaction in decision-making. In some situations, a person may feel relaxed but unconsciously nervous. Self images do not always equalise who they really are. Therefore, knowing their biometrics facts can help them to understand and de-stress themselves in order to gain better solutions to their decisions.
BioBox is an interactive installation.