Category Archives: Macroergonomics

money and a watch

Motivational Priming

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My research in the domain of human motivation has had a profound influence on me. I never realized how important the distinction is between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. When we are motivated intrinsically, we become dedicated, passionate, and persistent. When we are motivated extrinsically, we get tunnel vision on the reward and become less concerned with the underlying activity. This can result in lower quality of performance if we can get the reward through shortcuts. A recent study by Francesca Gino at Harvard Business School found something quite powerful…

a woman punching a man

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…

a man being interviewed by a woman

Ethics of Nudging with False Information

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This paper got me thinking of an ethical issue that many of us face with cognitive engineering and behavioral design. Part of our mission is to design products, systems, and services to improve user performance and user experience. What if the best way to do that is to provide false information? Is that ethical?

As behavioural sciences are unearthing the complex cognitive framework in which people make decisions, policymakers seem increasingly ready to design behaviourally-informed regulations to induce behaviour change in the interests of the individual and society…

a man and a woman holding a sign reading "energy wise" and a large CFL bulb

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…

An image of notes and other brainstorming tools

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…