Category Archives: Human Performance Modeling

Team working together

Employee Behavior Analytics

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Can we use simple design changes in a workplace to improve employee teamwork, communication, and performance? We have talked here several times about some interesting innovations such as aligning the chairs, creativity spaces, and so on.

While it is widely acknowledged that effective communication and knowledge transfer are crucial to an organization’s success, these behaviors are very difficult to measure. Surveys and human observers provide biased, limited views into communication behaviors, which is of little practical usefulness for organizations.

home office

How ‘macro’ is Macro?

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Note from the Editor: We are pleased to have the first guest post from the site manager – France Jackson. I don’t expect it will be the last, so please give her a warm welcome as you post your comments.

We have done a series of articles centered around the workplace environment. There have been numerous pieces on standing desks, leaning workstations and a modern collaborative space. But with many companies shifting to mobile workers and telecommuting, the home has become the workplace for many Americans. According to Green Biz, companies can save up to $10,000 per employee a year by having workers telecommute. A recent article by Fast Company highlights the homes of some of the “top creatives from around the world”. The article mentions how creative offices spaces are designed to inspire, but inspiration starts at home.

cup of coffee

Intrinsic Free Coffee

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I heard about an innovative program being used by Pret-a-Manger that fits in remarkably well to the motivational psychology principles that I am using in my forthcoming book on gamification (yes, shameless plug there!).

You are all very familiar, I am sure, with the typical loyalty programs that retail stores use. You make ten purchases, you get a stamp for each purchase, and then after 10 stamps you get a free whatever. Free coffee at Starbucks. Free book at the bookstore. Free flowers at the florist.

man with hat

Persuasive Design

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We are getting better and better at persuasive design. For the uninitiated, persuasive design is the practice of specifically crafting designs calculated to induce the user to engage in a specific behavior. On the surface, that seems pretty harmless. It may even sound like what all user interface design is intended to accomplish. But there is a difference that makes all the difference.

The idea that computers, mobile phones, websites, and other technologies could be designed to influence people’s behavior and even attitudes dates back to the early 1990s, when Stanford researcher B. J. Fogg coined the term “persuasive computing” (later broadened to “persuasive technology”). But today many companies have taken that one step further: using technologies that measure customer behavior to design products that are not just persuasive but specifically aimed at forging new habits.


Getting Beyond Extrinsic Rewards

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The Washington Post has a good guest post from Hebrew University Economics Professor Eyal Winter.

The fear of depriving your peers a bonus because of your laziness was a much more meaningful motivator than the fear of losing your own bonus.

Arcade Driving Game

Training and Generalizability

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I love sharing information like this with you. It irks me when I see all of the lofty promises from companies (that shall remain unnamed, but they advertise so much online that I am sure you know who I am referring to) that their brain training will make you smarter, and solve all of your memory limitations, and turn your kids into the next Einstein. I have shared before the results of studies that show how limited transfer of training is when it comes to cognitive processes. If you practice your working memory span, you can indeed increase your working memory span. But it doesn’t improve anything else, and if you stop practicing you lose the benefits.

One recent study found that older adults could significantly improve their ability to multi-task after playing a specially designed driving video game called NeuroRacer. Another study from researchers at the University of Rochester found that playing action-packed video games improved people’s ability to make quick decisions and ignore distractions.


One Year Anniversary

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In honor of the one year anniversary of EID’s relaunch (check out our first post ever here) under our new format, we thought we would copy an innovative technique used by Ta-Nehisi Coates. In addition to being a brilliant, award winning writer, he is also credited for having one of the best comment management strategies for his blog at The Atlantic magazine. One dimension of his strategy, which seems obvious on the surface but is incredibly rare, is to start with the assumption that some…

a sign that reads "feedback?"

Confidence in Ignorance

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After listening to David McRaney’s interview of David Dunning about the Dunning-Kruger Effect, I had to go back and read some of the original research on the subject. It fits into the standard model of decision making heuristics that many of you will be familiar with, but this is a pretty extreme example. The basic idea of the Dunning-Kruger Effect is that when you are completely ignorant about a subject, you don’t notice the feedback that tells you that you are wrong because you are looking at the wrong cues…

a slide of neurons

Mental Simulation

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There was a great paper in the Journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory that reminded me why I read some pretty diverse journals when I have a chance. In this case, a team of researchers are Harvard review the evidence on mental simulation from both the neuroscience field and the behavioral science field and come to a conclusion that is supported from both ends – establishing some good convergent validity for their ideas…

an empty witness stand

Tunnel Vision Memories

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A recent study in Learning & Memory has some important implications for human factors practitioners. What they found probably won’t surprise you, but might not be something you have considered before.

Most theories of memory assume that representations are strengthened with repetition. We recently proposed Competitive Trace Theory, building on the hippocampus’ powerful capacity to orthogonalize inputs into distinct outputs.