The purpose of this study was to investigate of how assistive cutlery design effects perception of the user. Studies regarding the usage and development of assistive cutlery have primarily focused on the ergonomics, whereas research into the aesthetics of assistive cutlery has been minimal. A method based on Canter’s “Room Inference Protocol” from the field of environmental psychology was used to evaluate the aesthetics of the assistive cutlery. A series of images were digitally composited and a survey was deployed online, with an outcome of 562 usable responses. The results demonstrated that the female model with assistive cutlery was perceived to be less attractive, less stylish and less sporty in comparison with the male model that was utilising identical pieces of assistive cutlery. The research contributes to the existing literature in the field, complimenting the study by Torrens and Smith and validating the need for greater aesthetic consideration in addition to an ergonomically acceptable response for assistive cutlery. This in turn highlights the importance of industrial design for the context and adaptations of use, rather than just a design response given to the physical manifestation of a product.
Implications for Rehabilitation
Reduced grip can be not only physically debilitating but also socially isolating through stigmatisation.
Current assistive cutlery may be ergonomically sound, but aesthetically lacking.
Large, multinational study demonstrates significant gender effect relating to the perception of women using these devices.