Establishing a hybrid-methodology model for co-designing behaviour change
: within the context of adventure sport participation in Scotland

  • Sarah Morton

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Adventure sport participation numbers have significantly increased over the period of the past ten years; it has been suggested that the emergence of an experience economy, where experiences have more value than possessions, could be a key factor for this increase. Motivations for taking part in an adventure sport activity varies between participants, and perhaps even more so than those motivations that were expressed by participants’ pre-experience economy.
There are a number of theories about increased participant numbers; for example, the type of demographic, how they approach participation, and approximate suggestions of how the trend for experiences rather than possessions will evolve in the future. However, there is little that explores the experiences of these newer participants, how they behave, and how they are being received by the adventure sport industry. Additionally, there is no evidence to suggest a definite understanding of the needs and requirements of these participants, nor has an investigation been conducted to measure how well the industry is meeting these. Likewise, the potential to adapt existing provision, to expose untapped opportunities, appears unconsidered, and therefore may have benefit for both providers and participants.
This study took its lead from using a process of problematization, whereby the problem is explored, identified and defined by the designer(s), rather than presented to them to solve. Using this approach, a hybrid methodologies model was designed and tested to explore the perceptions and experiences of adventure sport participants, to identify any changes that may be occurring as a result of the experience economy and increased numbers of participants taking up an adventure sport activity. Immersive ethnographic and qualitative methods were implemented to better understand identified changes and issues, and quantitative methods were used to elaborate on, confirm and validate the findings. By doing this it was also possible to establish the efficacy of taking a lived experience approach to identifying and exploring emergent and currently unaddressed issues.
The study identified three key themes of interest to adventure sport participants: provision of information, ability to accurately assess skill level and participate safely, and being a part of the adventure sport community. These emerging themes were problematizated, validated, and a process of co-design and ideation was used to establish and suggest a solution that could be implemented by the industry to solve the identified issues.
This study highlights the potential of using lived experiences to identify a problem, and employs new mixed methodologies to develop a better understanding of critical factors occurring within a specific industry and its associated communities. The study uses this knowledge to generate a designed solution. The theories and methods discussed by the study have transferable values, and could be used within a wide range of other subject areas, being especially useful when a hypothesis proves difficult to identify and define at the outset of a study.
Date of AwardAug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Abertay University
SupervisorGregor White (Supervisor), Louis Natanson (Supervisor), Dayna Galloway (Supervisor) & Suzanne Prior (Supervisor)


  • (auto) ethnoraphy
  • adventure sport participation
  • design thinking (ideation)
  • problematization
  • behaviour intervention

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