Independent Learning

Empathy Map

The empathy map helps us better understand the perspectives of key populations, and identify knowledge gaps to be further addressed through research, observation, and engagement with that population.

Using this tool, you will answer the following questions:

  1. Perception: What does this population perceive about the world around them?
  2. Action: How do they act? What are their motions and reactions?
  3. Feel: How do they feel? What are underlying emotions?
  4. Goal: What are they trying to achieve?

What is this tool exactly?

Empathy is a mindset and behavior that helps us identify key social challenges and develop useful, effective, culturally appropriate solutions for them. Every single person is an expert in their own experience, and empathy allows us to better understand that experience from their perspective, so we can better work with and support them.

Who should be involved?

Ideally, the whole project team would work with each beneficiary or key stakeholder to conduct interviews and surveys and observe their work, and use the information gathered to complete the empathy map. Because this is not always possible, your team can start by filling out the map with the beneficiary or stakeholder in mind, as best as you can.

How long should it take to complete?

20 minutes to several hours

Where can I learn more?
  1. In “A Lesson in Empathy,” IDEO’s Tim Brown reflects on an important video by the Cleveland Clinic that uses empathy to reveal the complexity of a hospital. March 2013.
  2. In “The Practical Guide to Empathy Maps: 10-Minute User Personas,” Jerry Cao describes how to use an empathy map to visualize a target stakeholder’s needs and integrate that map into a design workflow.