Category Archives: Education

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Behavior Change and Self-Identity Resonance

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I use the term self-identity resonance frequently to describe a phenomenon that is often the cause of a failure to accept a logical argument or engage in a productive or attractive behavior. The basic meaning of the term is not always clear to people, so I thought I would share a great blog post from Gretchen Rubin at the Happiness Project, who tells a very engaging story on the topic.

When people find it hard to change a habit, when they keep trying and failing, often an issue of identity is involved. Our idea of “this is the kind of person I am” is so bound up in our habits and actions that it can be hard to see. But our sense of identity can make it easier or harder to change a habit…

Filanovsky Victoria of Isreal competes the Individual All-around Qualification of Rhythmic Gymnastics of the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games at Bishan Sports Hall in Singapore

Expert Performance

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There often seems to be a false dichotomy between experts who conceptualize expert performance as an innate attribute emerging from cognitive abilities and personality versus experts who conceptualize it as the result of deliberative practice. Scott Barry Kaufman has recently published a brilliant opinion piece in Frontiers in Psychology where he takes issue with this. In contrast, he describes expert performance as:

A complex interaction of many personal and environmental variables that feed off each other in non-linear, mutually reinforcing, and nuanced ways…

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Gigerenzer-Kahneman Debate on Decision Making

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I have heard/seen/read several articles and interviews about the so-called debate between Gerd Gigerenzer and Daniel Kahneman (for example here) about what to do to help people make better decisions. I was so interested that I went out and read Gerd’s new book and re-read Kahneman’s.

A rival psychologist has published a book debunking the behavioural economics of Daniel Kahneman and the men behind Nudge, who, along with the authors of Freakonomics, were once the PM’s pet thinkers. So how do you choose between them?

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Ethics and Big Data Research

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A study recently published this month by a data scientist at Facebook brings up some really interesting issues about ethics, big data, and the monitoring and collection (and manipulation) of our behavior on social media. This topic is important for all of us because data is being collected for all kinds of reasons: basic research, design, user-modeling, ethnography, and many others. So no matter what sector you are in, this matters to you…

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College Students as Research Participants

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We have this debate often. How well do college students represent your target population when they are the majority of our research participants? Is the gap worth the savings in time and money needed to recruit them? How generalizable are our findings? Does this introduce fundamental construct validity problems and skew our conclusions one way or the other? So this research probably won’t surprise anyone, but I think it adds an important piece to the puzzle

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The Nature Nurture Debate in Gender: Round 52

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The uneven development of boys and girls in school is a constant source of debate. Are there innate wiring differences that lead them down different paths? Does culture trigger parents and teachers to treat children of different genders in specific ways that cause the differences? It usually turns out to be a constant interaction cycle of nature-nurture-nature-nurture-etc. A recent study adds a step to the nurture side.

For some years now, teachers and parents have noted something about boys and girls…

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Improving User Experience through Affective Design

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As many of you probably know already, I have been studying affective design for many years. A massive body of evidence has emerged that the dichotomy between rational and emotional decision making is largely a myth. All decisions require rational and emotional processes. Cognitive neuroscience has gone even further and shown us just how interconnected the brain areas involved in these processes are. One practical application of this new insight is to design sensors into our environment that can recognize our emotions, predict how these…

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The Persuasive Power of Peer Pressure

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By coincidence, I read this article from Harvard Business Review and heard this interview from Steve Dubner on his book tour on the same day. Both focus on the persuasive power of peer data. This is an area I have been studying for many years (and full disclosure will hopefully have my own book out later this year) and it is incredibly powerful. It is also an example of one of my favorite phenomena – self-delusion and the mismatch between why we really do things…

two people learning at a computer together

Persuasive Design in On-line Education

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Ali Rushdan Tariq had a really interesting piece on Nir and Far last month for those interested in persuasive design. It is a review of the education platform Udemy and the design techniques they use to hook users to sign up for more and more courses, even if they never actually attend. “As I clicked the big green “Take This Course” button, I became acutely aware of an uneasy feeling. This would be the 22nd course I’d have signed up for on…”

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User Experience in the Mainstream Media

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It was great to read this interview with Michael Heilemann from Squarespace and Aarron Walter from Mailchimp at Fast Company magazine. The takeaway I want to highlight today is that the way these two tech execs define user experience is very interdisciplinary. It involves every area of human factors. As a quick test, I scanned the list of HFES Technical Groups and I couldn’t find one that wasn’t included and essential in their definition…