For this week’s installment of our neuropsych series, we decided to revisit a favorite topic – habits.
Taming that sweet tooth for your New Year’s resolution might be harder than you think. New research suggests that forming a habit leaves a lasting mark on specific circuits in the brain, which in turn seems to prime us to further feed our cravings. The research deepens scientists’ understanding of how habits manifest and may suggest new strategies for breaking the bad ones.
Compliance with social norms has both a bright side and a dark side. On the positive, having some basic behaviors that people follow to get along with colleagues and neighbors helps teams perform more fluidly. It keeps society organized and helps us enforce the rule of law. It keeps meetings orderly. It pressures students to pay attention in class.
So how do we know when to promote compliance and when to promote non-compliance? I am not talking about defiance and outright rebellion, just maybe some moderate nonconformity. As individuals, are we well calibrated to know when to conform and when to stray? In our work teams, do we know how to balance the two poles? As a society, are we creating a culture that has a happy mix? The proverbial middle path?
For this week’s episode of Human Factors in History, we went back into the archives to find this great study by Richard LaPiere from the 1930s. It is particularly useful to revisit studies like this one because it is unlikely that we could do anything similar today. Read on to find out why.
Today I am going completely around the circle. I found a report that applies human factors to philanthropic management. So I am going to apply HF to philanthropic management and back to HF. Or something like that.
many of our decisions rely on mental shortcuts or “cognitive traps,”
which can lead us to make uninformed or even bad decisions.2
Shortcuts provide time-pressured
staff with simple ways of making decisions and managing complex strategies that play
out an uncertain world. These shortcuts affect how we access information, what information
we pay attention to, what we learn, and whether and how we apply what we learn. Like all
organizations, foundations and the people who work in them are subject to these same traps.
This is a simple example of the entitlement effect. At its essence, the entitlement effect is what happens whenever we feel like we have made progress towards a goal (or completed one). We feel entitled to reward ourselves for the progress by indulging. Sometimes the indulgence is directly related to the goal – for example rewarding ourselves after a big workout with an indulgent meal. Sometimes it is unconscious and only partially related – such as the junk food purchases in the @hiddenbrain story.
Researchers ran a couple of experiments, which suggest that when people visualize taking their own bags to get groceries, especially when they are doing it of their own accord and not because of a store policy, they’re more likely to indulge themselves and buy themselves treats.
Behavioral Design is a common technique used in human factors. Users develop behaviors for a variety of reasons. If we can design products, systems and environments to fit within the users’ natural behaviors, it is much more likely that they will use our design and use it effectively. We can also design our products, systems and environments to make it easy for users to create new behaviors around them – again increase usage and performance. There are many experts in human behavior and habit formation that have published oodles of good information on this (BJ Fogg for example).
Using my Behavior Model (FBM) as a guide, designers can identify what stops people from performing behaviors that designers seek. For example, if users are not performing a target behavior, such as rating hotels on a travel web site, the FBM helps designers see what psychological element is lacking.
We cover the challenges of deluded thinking a lot here at Ergonomics in Design. Part of the reason is that I am fascinated by the psychological processes that lead to deluded thinking. The other reason of course is that as human factors practitioners we need to be aware of when deluded thinking can impact performance. As you might expect, many people “airbrush” what they post on social media such as Facebook. What makes it more interesting is that we start believing our own deceptions…
In this season of the New Year’s resolutions, Jayashri Kulkarni from Monash University has some useful insight us to keep in mind.
In my patient’s case, unfortunately, I suspect her New Year’s resolution provided her with the opportunity to procrastinate. Despite comprehensive development of a smoking cessation plan, and extensive knowledge about the dangers to her health, she just didn’t want to give up smoking.
I am a little intrigued by the autographer. Not as a product I would want to buy, I am not at all interested in photo lifelogging. But I really want to know what the conversation was like when they decided on the basic functionality.
Autographer is a new type of camera which has been custom built to enable spontaneous, hands-free image capture…
In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I would provide some warnings about the risks you may want to watch out for as you celebrate the holiday. Since it is a holiday post, I didn’t feel obligated to check for hard statistics on any of these. I am pretty sure that these are well established risks on Thanksgiving…