Spirituality RESEARCH

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Understanding emotions...

This project revolved around human-centered design. The goal was to perform in-depth interviews to gain a greater understanding about the emotional connection millennials have to a deeply personal subject, religion. There was no intended result for these interviews. The goal was only to gain valuable, honest insight. 

The first round of interviews aimed to put the interviewee at ease, and encourage honest, detailed answers. Interview protocol began by understanding general information about the subjects, then narrowed in on information and emotions specific to religion. The interviewees participated in three different exercises to help find meaningful insights about personal values, spiritual philosophy, and relationships with others



Ashley lives in the Back Bay with her roommate Erika. She just recently left her job at the Housing Partners Network and is moving to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Ashley’s goal personally and professionally has always been to help others. In her free time she enjoys exercise, cooking, traveling, meditation, and spending time with loved ones.  Ashley practices her spirituality throughout her everyday life. She believes in personal growth, openness towards others, and a willingness to learn and change.

“Everyone should constantly try to be growing... If we all take steps to be
better people, that will inherently make the world a better place.”


Five in-depth interviews were conducted in this manner. The goal was to find patterns of thought and shared emotions throughout all of the subjects. These shared values and ideas would serve as the foundation for analysis and ideation moving forward. 



This was the “original intent” of religion. Becoming a better person is very important to them. They believe that it is not only vital to their personal happiness, but vital to the world as well. Personal growth inspires community growth.

Community growth then inspires personal growth as well. Experiencing intimate interpersonal connection, community support, or collective unity can create feelings of “wholeness” and fulfillment.



Helping others makes them feel good about themselves. They either have a career path which does good or they want to do good through opportunities outside of work. 

Millennials are of the opinion that religion may be pure and valuable in it’s most simple form. However, so many people and cultures have piled rules and scandals and disapproval on top of it, that it no longer resembles anything of value for them.


Outside research showed fallout in millennial religious participation and a rise in charitableness. According to Pew Research center, the majority of Americans now believe that good morals do not have to coincide with a belief in God. The percentage of people between the ages of 18 and 29 who, “'never doubt existence of God' fell from 81% in 2007 to 67% in 2012.”  Additionally, Forbes has called millennials the charitable generation. "'Add good' has been their mantra as they utilize newfound ways to give back. Rather than making random or one-off donations, they are a generation characterized by integrating the causes they care about into their daily routines and purchase behaviors.”


Analysis of primary and secondary research sought to find the intersections between user values and user problems to begin ideating on a solution. I was largely inspired by specific quotes from the interviews about how helping others and bonding with a community can lead to personal growth. 



"That you should love your neighbor, and your neighbor should love you.
I think that’s the core message of religion and that everything else is this noise..."

"I find myself doing a lot in life for other people.
Most of my drive is about helping other people.

"When a group of people are doing the same action for the same purpose,
it feels like you’re part of a collective unity.


Collective effervescence...

“Collective effervescence is a sociological concept introduced by Émile Durkheim. According to Durkheim, a community or society may at times come together and simultaneously communicate the same thought and participate in the same action. Such an event then causes collective effervescence which excites individuals and serves to unify the group.” - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

HOW do we help millennials find fulfillment by giving back in a way that makes them feel connected and excited? 

Though I didn't yet know what form the design would take, I wanted to storyboard the ideal experience to convey the emotional journey of the user. This storyboard follows Ashley through a typical work day.



Ashley enjoys her career, but is searching for deeper fulfillment outside of work. She wants to help people, but doesn’t know the best way to go about it.


Her friend tells her about a volunteer group that she can easily join that weekend. It fits into her busy schedule, so she decides to go.


The connection that Ashley feels gets her excited about helping people, and life in general. She decides that she will make it a part of her life every week.

The three concepts below are experiences that achieve the goal of my big idea: to help millennials find fulfillment by giving back in a way that makes them feel connected and excited. 



A service which plans large scale events for which the proceeds go to a good cause


Service that connects millennials to volunteer opportunities in their area


Space for groups of millennials to go to build or create things for others

I wanted to prototype the experience of people building something together and observe their emotional reactions. This small exercise gave me some insight into how a space for building together might make people feel. 



“It was almost like a shared vision. We were all working together to
work out the details and come to decisions about how it should be.”

The building together exercise made the participants feel excited about collaborating. They enjoyed having something physical to make and valued the "problem solving aspects." They also discussed the positivity of having a space "to come home to" where they could do work for others



- PROTOtype the experience of a space on a larger scale

- Understand the specific functions of the space,
what it needs to look like / contain

- Understand how to most effectively keep users excited
and engaged
by observing their emotional reactions
to the space / what happens there