The psychological experience of prototyping

Elizabeth M Gerber*, Maureen Carroll

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


While scholars have studied what design practices accomplish, few have considered how people feel when enacting these practices. An eighteen-month ethnographic study of a high-tech firm examined the psychological experience of engaging in the practice of low-fidelity prototyping. The study finds that the production and rapid visualization of multiple ideas through low-fidelity prototyping allows practitioners to reframe failure as an opportunity for learning, supports a sense of forward progress, and strengthens beliefs about creative ability. Results suggest how design work practices can be designed to help employees manage in uncertain conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-84
Number of pages21
JournalDesign Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


  • design cognition
  • design management
  • design practice
  • job design
  • psychology of design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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