Defining the behavioural design space

Camilla K.E. Bay Brix Nielsen*, Jaap Daalhuizen, Philip J. Cash

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Behavioural Design is a critical means to address human behaviour challenges including health, safety, and sustainability. Practitioners and researchers face difficulties in synthesising relevant perspectives from across fields, as behavioural challenges are complex and multi-dimensional. This study takes a three step theory-building approach. First, we review behavioural theories and models primarily rooted in psychology, and discuss them in relation to design perspectives to identify parameters key to behavioural design. Next, we synthesise previously fragmented behavioural and design parameters and propose the Behavioural Design Space (BDS) framework, including: Cognition, Ability, Motivation, Timing, Social, and Physical Context. Last, as a demonstration of its use, we apply the BDS framework as lens on observed expert behavioural designer’s ideation. Our findings are twofold. First, the synthesis of generic behavioural and design parameters allow us to investigate expert behavioural designer’s ideation across five diverse cases. This illustrates the BDS’ potential of providing relevant overview across diverse domains. Second, the expert behavioural designers observed often utilised the less abstract parameter, Physical Context, and favoured low variation of parameters within concepts. This point to a need for support to help designers discover potential pitfalls and blind spots, as well as further study of behavioural design ideation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Design
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


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