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Emotionally driven Prostheses: Exploring the Effects on Users’ Lives and Societies’ Attitudes in the UK and Greece

Colour image of Anna Vlachaki

Dr Anna Vlachaki


The literature shows that research into the aesthetic aspects of prostheses is limited. Although there are suggestions that prostheses with high levels of emotionally-driven design may improve users’ well-being, they are based only on theoretical findings. Therefore, in this thesis, the effects of emotionally-driven prostheses on users’ lives and society’s attitudes were explored, with respect to culture and more specifically, the theories of individualism/ collectivism. In order to investigate the effects of culture, the research was conducted in two countries with different cultures; the UK (individualistic) and Greece (collectivistic). The thesis began with a literature review across three core areas: user, product and environment, and revealed the importance of investigating an additional area; that of prosthetists. The research employed a qualitative approach and consisted of four studies. Study I was an online questionnaire to explore users’ preferences towards prostheses, with respect to their culture. Study II consisted of semi-structured interviews and informational probes to comprehend the role of prostheses on users’ lives, with respect to prosthetic appearance. In Study III, the aim was to investigate prosthetists’ attitudes towards the needs of prosthetic users by conducting semi-structured interviews. Finally, Study IV was an online questionnaire to explore non-users’ attitudes towards the design of prostheses. The research showed that the use of prostheses for the completion of users’ body was not an adequate factor to improve their well-being, and a shift on users’ desires towards emotionally-driven prostheses has occurred. From the variables that were tested, sex, age, cause and area of limb-loss may affect people’s attitudes towards the design of prostheses. Furthermore, the results showed that prostheses with high emotionally-driven design evoked emotions, in both users and non-users, with higher levels of pleasantness and arousal than the emotions that were elicited by the prostheses of lower emotionally-driven designs and thus, they may trigger a greater behavioural reaction. This suggested that emotionally-driven prostheses may eliminate users’ stigmatisation by increasing their self-confidence and altering society’s attitudes. However, attention needs to be paid in collectivistic countries, as emotionally-driven prostheses may enhance users’ stigmatisation.