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Project SE4P

Understanding how to inculcate the value of empathy in school students

5th Semester Design Project 

Design for Social Change | User Research | Game Design

Under guidance of:

Prof. Dr. Ravindra Singh


4 months (August'20-November'20)

Team (3):

Akash K. Seth, Ipshita Singh, Yamini Gupta

My role:

Research (secondary + primary),

Synthesis and analysis,

Problem statement refinement,


Solution development,

Visual presentation,

Usability testing,

Future roadmapping

*The full solution hasn't been displayed here, since we are aiming to approach educational            institutions for implementation. Reach out to any of us personally if you wish to know more!


Problem Overview 

Over the last many years, there have been numerous cultural and social shifts in many areas and hence the various societies have developed certain philosophies and considerations on gender that are indirectly forced and further ingrained in individuals. 

Consequently, the biased mentality has been profoundly instilled in the mindsets of individuals. This is because, since our birth, we begin to notice both verbal and non-verbal prejudiced actions that shape up our ideology due to the pre-existing biases of parents, society, and educational institutions towards different genders. 

This takes away one's opportunity to frame our own mindset and ideologies subsequently falling prey to all the encompassing patterns of biases at an early age.

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Secondary Research

(Literature Review)

Primary Research



(Thematic Analysis)



Solution Development

Testing +


- Design for All

- Design for Social


- Gender Inequality

- Gender Roles and


- Cycle of prejudices

- Childhood and its           impact

- Influence of school,        environment,                  parents, peers over        thought

- Anecdotes of                  notable interaction        with other genders

- Grouping of                   instances

- Pattern finding

- Age-group                    classification

- Final insights

- How Might We?

- Grouping +

   Sorting of HMW  

- Ideation

- Prioritization

- Need Statement

- Specifics            construction

- Prototyping    

- Stakeholder      Mapping

- Features

- Usability Test

- Phase rollout  

- Impact

- Future                Roadmapping

Research Goal 

To understand:

  • people's motivations and reasons behind prejudicing,

  • their emotional reaction to being prejudiced themselves, and

  • the various sources of influence they have over their ideology.

Research Methodology 

  • Secondary Research: To understand problem at an introductory level, provisional user set

  • Primary Research (Informal Interviews): To understand the general perspective on the topic, the key focus areas and experiences

  • Primary Research (Formal Interviews): Interview the extreme profiles (most affected) about the chosen domains

  • Synthesis + Insights: Synthesize the information to understand trends, similarities, dissimilarities and extract insights

  • User Testing: Once the basic solution has been devised, to carry out user testing.

Why do people prejudice? 

The following flow has been developed after the synthesis of extensive secondary research of journals, research papers, memoirs, and anecdotes.


Brains oversimplify traits of a person to process information faster based on:

Original perception learnt through society

Perception developed through an experience


Causes person to stay ignorant about positive qualities of other person

Causes further ignorance, stuck in a limbo

DESIGN DIRECTION: Break the loop 

No empathy can develop since they don't understand the other person fully

Provisional User Set: Children 

Children were chosen as the broad user set, as breaking the loop gets difficult to do so in adulthood since he ideologies get hardened. Two more cycles were developed: the experience cycle and the parent cycle, in the context of children to understand how they get influenced using insights from secondary research.

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Ever since a child is born, one is exposed to the ideologies and mindsets of our parents. According to studies children start to recognize prejudices as early as the age of 6 months. Hence a parents ideologies influences one's thoughts and ideas to a great extent.


The parents' ideology itself is a product of their own parents' ideology and their life-long experiences.



Personal experiences and observations usually build up our ideologies and impact one's contemplation and thoughts by large.

These ideologies are often built either by observing the biases or encountering one of them. This restricts our thoughts from further expanding to new ideologies.

Problem Statement v.1: "Lack of guidance for children to not prejudice among people of different sections based on stereotypes or preconceived notions."

Gender Inequality 

To be more efficient and delve deep into prejudices, we had to pick one basis of prejudice. We chose Gender.

Choosing one type of prejudice and combating it is more focus-oriented and hence more efficient. Considering that for every prejudice, the crux of the problem remains the same (ignorance and lack of empathy), solving even one would create a ripple effect and help in combating other forms of prejudice as well.

Babies begin to associate gender identity with people at an early age of 18 months

Considering the Indian households wherein hetero-normative family structures are the most ubiquitous; and on appearance, gender feels as the most distinguished feature, we chose gender as the basis of prejudice.

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Since ignorance and lack of empathy lie at the very crux of any prejudice, targeting on even one will have an overall ripple effect that will aid in eradication of others.

Gender roles and stereotyping: 

Indian Households 

In Indian context, there are a myriad of gender stereotypes that have been so normalised over the course of time that people don't recognise them as an issue anymore. These gender stereotypes hurt both ends of the spectrum, as it hinders their emotional, professional, social, and functional growth.

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"Cooking and household duties are for women as they're supposed to be the gentler, domesticated sex"

This gender role and stereotyping harms both the sides:

It reduces women's chances and hopes of searching for jobs and being independent. It harms men by gendering a basic life skill that every individual should be aware of. 


"Men are supposed to go out and earn money for the family as they've been the provider for centuries"

This gender role and stereotyping harms both the sides:

It poses as a psychological burden on men who are then shamed by society if they're not able to financially provide for their family. Women who earn more than their male partners are chastised for making their partner "feel less like a man."

Problem Statement v.2: "Lack of guidance for children to not prejudice among different genders based on stereotypes or preconceived notions."

Primary research: 



Interviewee demographic: College students in sub-urban India

The original plan was to interview registered sex offenders, school students, and psychologists. 

However, due to COVID-19 pandemic, we could not go forward with it. Currently, we are attempting to arrange logistics for the same to further solidify our project.


The number of people we interviewed 


The number of hours of recording


Topics covered in 

Key areas and questions 

  1. Childhood memories, toys, shows, siblings

  2. Interaction with people in school (especially of the other genders)

  3. Peer pressures, school rules, dating life

  4. Understanding of gender roles, power dynamic

  5. Relationship with parents: now and before

  6. Information intake: sources, frequency, interest

Notable quotes 

"The kids in my class used to call each other chhakka as an insult, every week there was a new target"

"I used to do it too, otherwise they would call me it"

"I started recognising and appreciating the differences of other genders after I started dating." 

"As the man of the house, I'm given certain outside tasks such as banking by my father. My sister is not expected to carry those tasks out."

"When Hermione punches Draco in the third book, that is my favourite part"

"I do not discuss my views with my family. My visits to home are limited, and a discussion would only lead to unnecessary conflict."

"School life is harder for girls as the're criticised for everything there."

"The ideology of parents can't be changed at this point. They've lived more than half of their life and have experienced lots of things along the way. They don't and won't care for equality as much as the new generation, as they've accustomed themselves to it." 

Affinity Mapping 


Final Insights 


Communication and
exposure of the other gender increases confidence to talk, and understand their similarities and differences better


Children benefit from values that are implicit, and when they are held accountable for actions by someone they look up to.


information causes
increased curiosity
which then heightens chances of consuming and believing incorrect


Our thoughts usually get influenced by the
people and content we
constantly surround
ourselves with


People are more accepting of female exhibiting masculine behaviour contrasting to effeminate males


If something discriminating happens to you, then you take it individually upon yourself, rather than a group/ gender thing

Age Classification 

As a part of synthesis of information, we also condensed behavioural changes that take place at different ages. This was done so to target down on our user set for the solution.

2-6 Years


  • Parent's opinion forms the mold for their thinking.

  • They pick up on both verbal and non-verbal communication, and are able to identify their meaning.

  • The books, movies and toys are as per the wishes of the parents, and what is gifted to them by the relatives

7-10 Years


  • Start to become more social due to school.

  • Build individual identities based on likes and dislikes which are  in accordance with parents.

  • School activities (parents' introduction) are an introduction to child's understanding of other family dynamics

  • The content consumption is as per the developing interests of the child, along with the approval of the parent.

11-13 Years


  • Often accredited to being the 'rebellion' stage, as children enter the adolescent age and start to explore world around them differently. 

  • Peer influence is more than that of parent influence, in order to 'fit in', and not get bullied.

  • The content consumption is as per what is trending and what is usually socially acceptable by the peers. It is usually edgy, adult content which is not in accordance to parents' interests.

14-17 Years


  • An extension of the last stage; no longer view the world as a detached entity and try to understand their role as a participant.

  • The ideology developed over the past few years accumulate at this stage, to form the base ideology for mostly the rest of the life.

  • The content consumption is as per the interests of the child and what will help them grow, as a person and professionally.

Chosen User Set 

The ideal age group that we decided to cater to is age 14-17 years old.

This is because, it is at this stage that critical cognitive development takes place. As per our interviews, people grew more aware of the outside world at the onset of 9th class due to the history subject. 

Moreover, since there is an accumulation of all ideologies at this stage, the mind is responsive to all schools of thought. 


The solution will cater to all students that lie in this age group, which is why there is no 1 definite persona, but the features of the entire age group.

Responsive to different schools of thought

Seek fun

Maximum interaction with other genders as people start to grow interest in dating

Like to 'fit in' and not stand out

Seek approval of others

Design Direction: 

How Might We? 

For the 6 insights that we gathered, we brainstormed extensively, first individually and then as a group, about the possible design directions we could cater to. Some HMWs were grouped while some were removed due to the narrow scope of understanding.

In total, we thought of 31 'How Might We's', and narrowed down to 4 of them finally.


Final insights



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Design Direction: 


In addition, the How Might We statements were translated into a collection of workable ideas and principles that were more solid and straightforward in nature as to the chosen context and the area of design for equality. These covered a wide range of spectrum, from the realistic and practical concepts for the near future to the wild ideas and concepts for a more long-sighted and uncertain future.





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Ideation Selection: 

Prioritization Graph 

To select the idea to go ahead with, we placed all the ideas on an impact-feasibility graph collectively. 
By impact, we mean the effectiveness of the idea itself, and by feasibility we talk about the constraints of this project and the surrounding environment as well.
After placing, we arrived at our chosen solution: Make a game wherein being the opposite of you for 30 days is rewarded.





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Design Direction: Build a game that helps imbibe empathetic values for the other genders



*The full solution hasn't been displayed here, since we are aiming to approach educational            institutions for implementation. Reach out to any of us personally if you wish to know more!

SE4P Program: 

The solution 

SE4P is an introspective program that teaches youth to empathise with people of different backgrounds through concealed, yet extremely engaging activities and games. It is a 4 week immersive experience that enables students to unlearn their prejudices and biases regarding genders and help seep in a better
understanding of them.

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Primary Usability Testing 

To understand the needs of our user set better, we employed primary testing at a fairly early stage. 

We proposed the idea in detail to one of our team mate's sibling, Prisha Singh, to gather her insights on the program.

Her candid responses helped shape us the program even better, in terms of the activities conducted, the duration, and the order in which they should be conducted.

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"It seems so exciting, 
I wish our school adopts this." 

Phase wise Rollout 

Since it is a sensitive program that would require huge amount of funds, time, and energy from all stakeholders, the program will follow the design process of continuous testing and iterating. 

Given below is the Phase wise rollout of the program, that will move down every stage if and only if success is achieved at all previous stages.

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Future Scope and Work to be done 


A discussion with a child psychologist 
regarding negative and positive impact 
of the activities involved.


Approach different schools for running the program at the initial phases.


Make the program more inclusive 
for different audiences to 


Make the program environment free, so as to make it available in the online medium as well.

Key Takeaways and Learnings 


It is important to get even the earliest ideas tested and reviewed by the targeted user set to understand their needs better.


To solve a huge complex problem, it is important to first zoom in and find the crux of the problem and then find solutions for that crux, rather than trying to solve the whole problem as it is.


For serious issues such as this one, interviews are supposed to be preferred more than surveys as interviews explore everything much more in depth.


It is normal to feel demotivated when you're trying to bring in a social change and no solution seems to work because of the complexity and the size of the problem. If you're following a methodological process, you will arrive at a solution, and even that is impactful enough.

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