Empathy Mapping

Empathy Mapping

It is a tool that a learner can use to gain a depth of insight into the emotions of a user of their choice. It helps in identifying specific act by the user in a given circumstances or conditions. Through imaginations, a learner learns to create or visualize scenarios using one’s thoughts.

A sample of thought process re-orientation

(Courtesy: Cleveland Clinic; CEO Toby Cosgrove, MD, shared this video, titled “Empathy,” with the Cleveland Clinic staff during his 2012 State of the Clinic address on Feb.)

Pre-requisite prior beginning:

The exercise needs to be completed within a time-frame of about thirty minutes.

  • Empathy mapping sheet;
  • Sticky notes;
  • Thick-bold marker (one or more colors);
  • Pencils/sketch pens for drawing objects (optional)

Process is very simple to do:

  • Identify a single user. Be specific who your user is. Give a name to the user.
  • Identify stakeholders of the user.
    1. These are the persons getting involved in the life of the user. The frequency of involvement may vary from daily to yearly basis.
  • Think of activities that the user must be doing.
  • When exhausted of thoughts on activities of the user, assume that the user is meeting each of the stakeholders. Identify new activities possibly happening.
  • Now, one need to become a movie script writer.
    1. Two stories are essential involving happy (gain) and sad (pain) emotions each. Both of these emotions are crucial for happenings in a persons’ life (our user);
    2. Involve the thinking and feelings of the user, what the user must be seeing at, or hearing to or saying to someone.
    3. Give name of each of the actor in your stories;
    4. Places may be given names;
    5. Draw diagrams in relevance, if any you like to draw;
    6. Attempt to use entire of the paper, drain out your thoughts.
  • You are done with mapping for empathy of a user.
  • Iterate by taking another user.

Some tips to make your empathy mapping effective:

  • Put your name and identity on the mapping sheet – FIRST TASK.
  • Avoid forceful/enforced observation (in form of experience’ for example, making empathy of thoughts for a newborn baby…!);
  • Avoid hypocritical thinking;
  • One must enter into the emotion of the user;
  • Expect what your user will expect (expectations are natural for someone to do something);
  • Remember that the technologies evolve organically and step-by-step, not overnight and all of a sudden.

Mindmapping applied for creating Empathy map


(Image source: http://www.biggerplate.com/mindmaps/YvBl62SN/empathy-map)

A quick look into “How to make an Empathy Mapping sheet?”

Creative Commons License
Empathy Mapping by Bhasker V. Bhatt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Author created the content as a part of developing Open Educational Resources (OER). It means you are free to use, re-use and distribute the above all for free provided while the usage, proper citation is made. The page is under Creative Commons free culture license.

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