Persona Multiplication

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  • Title: Persona Multiplication: A Method to Avoid Designed Injustice
  • Author(s): David Pearl, James Intriligator
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Common Ground Open
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Design in Society
  • Keywords: Design Justice, Equitable Design, Personas, Methodology, Design Thinking, Applied Theory, Product Design, Persona Multiplication (PM), Social Justice, Transversal Design, Designed Injustice, Human Factors Engineering (HFE), User Experience Design (UX), Human–Computer Interaction (HCI)
  • Volume: 17
  • Issue: 1
  • Date: March 17, 2023
  • ISSN: 2325-1328 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2325-1360 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Pearl, David, and James Intriligator. 2023. "Persona Multiplication: A Method to Avoid Designed Injustice." The International Journal of Design in Society 17 (1): 31-44. doi:10.18848/2325-1328/CGP/v17i01/31-44.
  • Extent: 14 pages

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Although human-centered design (HCD), or user-centered design (UCD), is a foundational approach in a wide range of fields, sometimes HCD can lead to “designed injustice”—where products or systems facilitate unjust outcomes in society. Here, we present a new method, Persona Multiplication (PM), which helps designers avoid some of the dangers implicit in traditional HCD. PM helps guide designers through an evaluation of the implicit (or potential) designed injustice early in the design process. Our approach is grounded in traditional HCD methods as currently applied across a wide range of fields, including Product Design (PD), Human Factors Engineering (HFE), User Experience Design (UX), and Human–Computer Interaction (HCI). PM involves adding a new “multiplication and evaluation” step in the design process—just after standard persona-development. This step helps ensure that the design space includes a broader set of personas and use-cases to help avoid designed injustice. Through a series of case studies, we demonstrate how the method can be applied across a range of design domains. We hope to inspire further development of additional tools, methods, systems, and processes to help ensure designed injustice occurs less frequently over time.