The Trust Test
Interactive, Environment, Film

A physical, interactive experience. It measures the mutual trust between acquaintances in specific situations. In the end, the closer the participants, the more they trust each other. 

* Special thanks to Heather Mewton for filming guidance and Nathaniel Hall for the wood work.

Boundary is the Evaluation of Trust

This was my senior thesis project. That semester, our word was Boundary. In this project, boundary means the invisible shield we build around ourselves to protect us from being hurt. By the end of each test, the physical distance between participants visualizes their invisible boundary. 

After choosing a relationship, participants are asked to physically answer five trust-related questions, which are randomly drawn from five libraries in the order of increasing difficulty. Moving forward means “Yes, 100% trust,” standing still indicates other answers.


Surprise, Fun, Popular 

Before I started my thesis, I wanted to create a project that would encourage physical engagement. The goal was reached. At the senior show, the project attracted more than thirty participants and draw many waves of attention. Laughters, claps, sweet kisses… It was one of the most popular spots in the house.


How It Come This Far

I’m not joking. My inspiration came from Paddington 2 and Exploratorium. When I combined the thought of a trusting bear and the form of physical interaction, a game of trust came to my mind.

Think Beyond Flat Surface

Nope. Not another poster, or a website, or an app, or a video… When I started generating ideas, I meant to break the graphic design defining boundary—two-dimension— and think about objects and space. I imagined an experience that revealed participants’ mutual trust, which I questioned whether they should talk about or surprised by. The latter felt more exciting.

30-Dollar Prototype

The idea of physical engagement won the vote. With a camera, a GoPro, cheap carboards, a marker, a roll of duck tape, and printouts of some trust-related questions, I set up the project’s first prototype. The participants ranged from students to staff. The post-participation survey shown that people enjoyed this little test, a lot.

The Trust Questions

“Do you trust” questions are essential for the project. The first prototype made me realize that the questions were too easy for participants, who already knew each other. To make the test more challenging, I utilized social media to crowdsource more authentic, genuine trust-related questions. Then, based on relationships and contexts, I divided the questions into five levels, from the easiest to the hardest.


Test It Again

With updated questions, I started the second prototype. This time, I created a digital site that automated the questions being asked based on relationships. That day was also the filming day. That’s right. It’s the film at the beginning of this project page that demonstrates how this experience works.


+  Photo by David Asari

Final Design 

With a designed wood frame and marks, the experience was elevated with simplicity and curiosity.

Slip, Surprise 😬 

The trust wall triggers a moment of surprise at the end of each test—the revealing moment.  I imagined something fun and convenient for the most anticipated part of the experience, and a wood frame with a wireless blind seems minimum, yet on point.