Tag Archives: behavior change

red poisonous berries

Evolutionary Design and the Ability to Recognize Key Resources

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I am not sure if this research with seem so obvious to you that you skip over it, but since so many things in motivational psychology are counterintuitive I thought I should share one of those great examples where things just make sense.

Question: If our ancient ancestors were driven by the need for food, what is an important skill for them to have?
Answer: The ability to recognize food and differentiate it from things that are not food (especially those berries our moms warned us about that look good but are poisonous)…

Standing Up for Team Collaboration

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This study is further proof of what we discussed a few weeks ago about the foolishness of partitioning HF/E into neck up and neck down phenomena. There are many links between the two that are counterintuitive and might never be discovered with such a limited mindset.

Non-sedentary work configurations, which encourage standing rather than sitting in the course of work, are becoming increasingly prevalent in organizations. In this article, we build and test theory about how non-sedentary arrangements influence interpersonal processes in groups performing knowledge work…

two boys playing video games

Games for Training Perceptual and Cognitive Functions

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An intriguing study out of Nanyang Technological University has implications for us in HF/E. They were interested in whether training people with video games could improve a variety of perceptual and cognitive skills. It turns out, as with most things in HF/E, the answer is that “it depends.”

Previous evidence points to a causal link between playing action video games and enhanced cognition and perception. However, benefits of playing other video games are under-investigated. We examined whether playing non-action games also improves cognition…

multiple lines of people waiting at a grocery store

Bad Luck or Conspiracy in the Checkout Line

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I am sure this will resonate with many of you, and you have probably thought about it from a HF perspective many times while waiting in the slowest checkout line in the store.

You run into the grocery store to quickly pick up one ingredient. You grab what you need and head to the front of the store. After quickly sizing up the check-out lines, you choose the one that looks fastest. You chose wrong…

many old cars parked in front of meters

The Ethics of Performance versus Principle

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This is another metric tradeoff that is of great interest to me, both professionally and philosophically. What do you do when your design process is faced with a tradeoff between two options: one that will work better but violates a principle that you think is important (but is not formally illegal or unethical) and one that works less well but has no such violations? This is top of mind with me this morning because of a debate we are having in Boston about P2P parking apps like Haystack. If you are unfamiliar with these apps, they allow someone who is leaving a parking spot to announce it on the app network and someone looking for a spot can grab it, for a fee of course.

a large red F on a report card

“Easier” Can Be a More Powerful Value Proposition than “Better”

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This really resonated with me, even though I had never heard of Pinterest Fail before.

My sort of thing is more like… how can I do something foolproof, cheap, and low-effort that will make me or my family/guests smile?

This is the value proposition that gets me up every day. I don’t follow Martha Stewart’s advice, no matter how beautiful it could make my apartment. I watch the Iron Chef, but I have never been tempted to put that much effort into a meal. And I know I am not alone. (Raise your hands – I know you are out there).

a air plane seat that resembles a bicycle seat

Airbus Files for Bicycle Seat Patent

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The other commenters on this article, such as by my good friend Charles Mauro, have said enough about the poor ergonomics of Airbus’s bicycle seat patent.

The seat design featured in the patent is barbarically sparse, without even basic necessities like a backrest, tray tables or any leg room to speak of. In fact, the seats don’t even appear to function like seats; instead they are designed to prop up the flyer in an awkward semi-upright position to reduce the space required between rows.

But let’s think outside the box here. What if instead of the bicycle seat, we had a spinning class flight?

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 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…