Given the importance attached to the inference of intent in other disciplines, it is notable that no serious effort has been devoted to understanding the inference of intent in design. Instead, the user response literature typically conceives of users as rather unsophisticated readers of products: they are seen to read the product, but not to recognise that that product has been written. For example, users are reported as finding products attractive, easy to use and symbolically appropriate, but little mention is made of whether users believe that those products were intended to be regarded in such ways (see reviews by Creusen & Schoormans, 2005; Crilly, et al., 2004; Desmet & Hekkert, 2007). This is despite work in the philosophy of cognition (Dennett, 1987; Vaesen & van Amerongen, 2008) and developmental psychology (Bloom, 1996; Kelemen & Carey, 2007) that argues that people’s interpretations of designed objects involve some inference of the designers’ intentions. Even where design research does recognise the possibility that users will infer design intent, this work is primarily conceptual in nature and is relatively rare and underemphasised (for example, we must look to specific passages in Bonta, 1979, p. 227; Crilly, Good, Matravers, & Clarkson, 2008, pp. 440-442; Crilly, Maier, & Clarkson, 2008, p. 20; Kazmierczak, 2003, p. 5; Malkewitz, Wright, & Friestad, 2003, pp. 5-6; Van Rompay, 2008, p. 342).
Do Users Know What Designers Are Up To? Product Experience and the Inference of Persuasive Intentions Nathan Crilly