Reminiscence Practices and Technological Support

Research Type:

  • Home observations

  • Contextual inquiry

  • Ethnography

​A study conducted to explore reminiscence practices of bereaved people and receptiveness towards co-creative systems to support them with bereavement related practices. Through at home observations and semi-structured interviews with 13 participants I explored what drives people to reminisce, what possessions people interact with to support reminiscence, the outcomes of reminiscence, and user desires or fears for technology to support them.

My role:

  • Lead researcher - organise, conduct, analyse, and write up

Collaborators:

  • Wendy Moncur, University of Strathclyde

  • Alison Pease, University of Dundee

Problem

People have turned to the creative arts for generations to process grief and adapt to bereavement. Songs have been written to memorialise, and pyramids built to immortalise. However, not everyone is capable of writing and performing a song, and much less so building a pyramid.  

Opportunity

Technology can help us connect and share stories, for the news of death to spread rapidly and for the bereaved to communicate and seek help widely. Advances in artificial intelligence have contributed to the rise of creative computers, capable of autonomously and collaboratively producing works of art. This leads us to ask: can the act of co-creating artistic work with a computer help bereaved people adapt to their bereavement and process their grief?

Research Aims

  • Can co-creative systems support users undertake actions associated with positive adaptation to bereavement?

  • Can the use of co-creative systems in this context quantifiably improve the mental wellbeing of users?

Key Findings

Users, when asked to co-create a song related to their bereavement experience, undertake several activities associated with positive adaptation to bereavement and the processing of grief. These activities include engaging with and expressing feelings, accepting the reality of loss, maintaining bonds with the deceased, and reminiscing. Additionally, these systems have a more beneficial impact on the mental wellbeing of younger users (under 34 years old).