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Positive & Humane Technology

With Google and Apple's recent digital well-being initiatives, as well as documentaries like the Social Dilemma, there has been a growing interest in positive tech or humane tech. But what exactly is positive tech?

Positive tech is user experience (UX) that is informed by the science of well-being.

It is different from traditional UX design because it prioritizes the well-being of the user over other metrics such as productivity, attention, retention, or monetary conversion. Well-being is often an afterthought in traditional UX design.

But what is well-being?

There are several models, but one of the more prominent ones is PERMA. This model breaks down well-being into five components: Positive Emotions, Engagement (i.e flow), Relationships, Meaning, and Achievement.

This framework can be used to guide the design of positive user experiences. For example, we may want to improve the quality of conversations between users in our applications with the aim of improving relationships. We can then test our UX by using a scale to assess relationship quality.


Below is a process that can be baked into your existing product design workflows. The resources listed below are just a few examples.

Positive and Humane Product Design
Positive/Humane Product Design

To design a positive product, it is important to integrate a positive design process into your existing product design workflow. A few resources for ideas and measurement include:

  • Positive Psychology Center at Penn

  • Greater Good at Berkeley

  • Live Happy Magazine

  • Journal of Happiness Studies

  • Perma profiler by Marty Seligman

  • Ed Diener's flourishing scale and life satisfaction scales

  • Meaning in life questionnaire

  • Subjective happiness scale

  • More Positive Assessment tools

It is important to measure the impact of positive tech on users to understand the effectiveness of the design.


There are lots more but this will get you down the right path.

Beyond the screen

Positive tech is not only limited to digital products, it can be applied to any product design, like architecture, furniture, fashion, and transportation design. In architecture, for example, the design of a building can have a positive impact on the well-being of its inhabitants, by providing natural light, green spaces, and promoting social interactions.

Get in touch

It is also important to share stories of positive product design with others in the industry to promote the spread of positive tech. If you end up doing a positive UX or product, please share your story with me. Zack Prager, MAPP Note: this article draws from a previous article that outlined the process we used to design Space For Humanity (our application to create digital free spaces) in 2018.

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