2018

Margherita Pillan, Milica Pavlovic, Shushu He

HCI International ‘18- DUXU: 7th International Conference on Design, User Experience and Usability, Las Vegas.

Mental Model Diagrams as a Design Tool for Improving Cross-cultural Dialogue Between the Service Providers and Customers: Case of the Chinese Restaurant Business in Milan


The globalization facilitated the spread of different ethnic cultures in the migratory flows, and enacted coexistence issues within local environments. The Chinese community is one of the most important foreign groups in Milan, with notable involvement of the community members in the restaurant business. The aim of the research is investigating design potentials for cross-cultural environments and scenarios. We focus on Chino-Italian services in Italy, and on the investigation of the value elements framed by different cultural points of view, so to extract design hints for the improvement of the offered services, within a design for experience approach. Specific focus of this paper is verifying the potentials of application of a tool, Mental Model Diagrams, used in the design for experience field, for framing the described main goal. While discussing the different perspectives between the service providers and customers, as well as diverse groups of the customers, we present also an enhanced structure of MMD supporting a triangulation between three mayor schemes of mental models. Such diagrams showed as helpful in underlining the mismatch of the three clusters, the Chinese catering business people and their customers, identified as Italian and Chinese cultural groups. The paper provides also a discussion on extracted design hints from the diagram, underlining its potential as a communication and design tool.