EXPLORING MENTAL MODELS IN MOBILE SHARING ECONOMY PLATFORMS

Open Access
Author:
Xu, Edward
Area of Honors:
Information Sciences and Technology
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Steven Raymond Haynes, Thesis Supervisor
  • Steven Raymond Haynes, Honors Advisor
  • Edward J Glantz, Faculty Reader
Keywords:
  • Sharing Economy
  • Mental Models
  • Usability Design Process
Abstract:
The purpose of this study is to examine the sharing economy and current mental models of mobile sharing economy applications with the goal of answering: • What user mental models currently exist in the sharing economy? • Are user mental models a useful tool for designing sharing economy applications? A two-phase approach involving a mental modeling phase with prototype development, and a benchmarking phase resulted in the observation that most participants, ages 18 to 24, have similar mental models in the layout of application features with an emphasis on a map or product feature. In addition, the sharing economy application prototype developed using mental models generated from participants returned similar metrics to existing sharing economy applications such as Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, and TaskRabbit. This suggests that mental models in the studied demographic, when used to develop new sharing economy prototypes, can generate comparable applications to those currently existing in the market.