Designer's Professional Identity: understanding composition, development, and perceptions

Kamila Kunrath

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

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Designers’ Professional Identity (DPI) is a psychological construct helps designers identify themselves as professionals and as belonging to a professional group. As an identification mechanism, it has a great influence on a designer's attitudes and behaviour, which are fundamental aspects of a designer's professionalism. Based on characteristics derived from relevant literature, DPI is described as being composed of two key elements: personal qualities (PA) and design qualifications (DS). This thesis evaluates these elements with regard to situational awareness, development over time and the relationship between professional expectations, self-identification and self- and socially perceived differences. This PhD project: (1) examines DPI as a dynamic process for professional identification (2) builds on literature explaining that personal identity (PI) requires a context-sensitive attention and (3) highlights self- and social perceptions as major components of DPI. This thesis is formulated as a collection of articles, which makes use of a current literature, survey questionnaire, and semi-structured interviews for data collection in both educational and professional environments. Three studies were conducted and the most important contributions from this are: (1) the identification of the specific elements that contribute to DPI and then the integration of these elements from the design literature to the general literature on PI; (2) the understanding of DPI’s development over time through Education, Awareness, Expectation, Motivation; (3) the understanding of differences in self- and social-perceptions regarding the role of designers and the DPI elements. Thus, the three studies carried out in this project provide considerable insights for education and industry with regard to DPI elements, identity development, and differences between self- and social-perceptions within design engineering. Furthermore, the studies highlight theoretical gaps and make suggestions for further research in the field.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages245
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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