NIININEN, Petri

THE ROLE OF THE AUTOMOBILE AS A TRANSMITTER OF SOCIAL CODES - AN INVESTIGATION OF INFLUENTAL AND EXPLANATORY MECHANISMS IN MAN'S RELATION TO PRODUCTS

People identify themselves through the choices they make in life styles, which in turn affects their purchase and use of products. Thus the products represent owners' beliefs, values and identities at some level. The aim of the project was to gain understanding of the interdependent, interactive systems and subjects that underlay the above process.

A survey of psychological and sociological theories was carried out, the aim of which was to discover the social aspects of man's relation to products. Some motivational and decision-making theories were considered, as well as factors from the social environment that influence people's actions. These included demographics values and life-styles.

The automobile was used as an example, particularly from the perspective of the domestic user. Special attention was paid to future values and their implications for car design.

Many of people's needs are a result of the social environment. These needs motivate people's actions, which then reflect their own social history, individuality and intentions. The perhormed actions are filtered again by the social environment, in terms of choices available, influences of the surrounding environment and individual capabilities.

An understanding of social aspects helps in the design of more competitive and more meaningsful products. Product quality should no longer reflect only functional and technological requirements, but should be considered from a holistic perspective and incorporate sociological and psychological influences.