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Lovers’ Box: Designing for Reflection within Romantic Relationships

Lookup NU author(s): Anja Thieme, Julie Lees, James Thomas, Professor Patrick OlivierORCiD


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We present the Lovers' box, a digital artefact designed to engage romantic couples in reflections on their relationship. By adopting perspectives from social psychology and interaction design, the work examines the role of reflection through the use of a non-traditional digital artefact that acts as a site for enduring attachments of personal emotional significance. To this end, we respond to previous research work on reflection through design, in the development of four Lovers' boxes whose purposes and meanings are completed through reflections both by romantic couples and their integration in everyday lives. A field study was conducted involving five couples in new relationships who were asked to exchange video messages (co-created with a digital media artist) using the Lovers' box over a period of five weeks. Our findings demonstrated: (1) that the creation, exchange and display of messages embedded in the digital artefact served as both mirrors and sources for reflection concerning couples' relationships; (2) the rich manner in which the Lovers' box became meaningful to participants, as they perceived it as keepsake or digital storybook of their meaningful experiences, experienced it as an enjoyable shared hobby with their partner and saw it as providing them a snapshot into the beloved person's mind and thoughts; and (3) how the potential for new castings of digital artefacts might support our personal and emotional lives.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Thieme A, Wallace J, Thomas J, Kraemer N, Olivier P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Human-Computer Studies

Year: 2011

Volume: 69

Issue: 5

Pages: 283-297

Print publication date: 30/12/2010

ISSN (print): 1071-5819

ISSN (electronic): 1095-9300

Publisher: Academic Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.ijhcs.2010.12.006


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Funder referenceFunder name
D/09/40237DAAD German Academic Exchange Service