Tag Archives: behavioral science

fruit bar and lunch tray

Smarter Lunchrooms

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I am a member of the Smarter Lunchroom Movement. The organization does research and promotes best practices in the design of K-12 school lunchrooms using behavioral science, persuasive design techniques, ergonomics, social psychology, and other sciences and design methods. Simple things like putting healthier foods within easier reach and at the front of the line (when students’ trays are empty and their budgets are full) and the reverse for the junk food.

Amazon Dash

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The Amazon Dash announcement has been making the rounds of social media memes, so I am sure you have seen it. But I want to provoke perhaps a more skeptical consideration. By now, you are probably familiar with the basic workings and the business model. And as HF pros, you probably have some insights on the behavioral science behind it.

The Dash Button is a bite-sized plastic module that you can stick anywhere you might want to impulse-restock a particular product (presumably in your home). It connects to Wi-Fi. You push it. Goods are shipped to your door. The buttons will be free for Prime members to order, so that they can use them to order more stuff from Amazon.

a halo surrounding a person formed by the sun

The Halo Effect

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The Halo Effect is one of my favorite illustrations of self-delusion. In part because it is so common. But more because it is just so irrational most of the time. The basic idea of the halo effect is that when decisions or evaluations are difficult, instead of focusing on the most important or most diagnostic attributes, we focus on the one(s) that are easiest to evaluate…

a small computing device clipped to a pocket to track movement

Fitbits for People with Multiple Sclerosis

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I have written before about wearables. They are a nice toy, but in general they don’t really do anything particularly useful, at least not with the current technology. This week, I read about a great application in health care, and I think it works.

Drugmaker Biogen Idec is exploring ways to use fitness trackers to gather data from people who suffer from multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.

a man standing in front of a large vending machine

Commitment Device: Constraining Users for their Own Good

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Springwise has been reporting on a variety of vending machines that constrain user behavior for their own good.

Businesses often stand by the motto ‘the customer is always right’ — but are they? We’ve already seen a few services that deny consumers what they want based on their personal info…

a keyboard with social media icons on the buttons

Social Media Research

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Social Media has become a favorite source of data for all kinds of research. User Experience designers involved with social media use their access to vast data sources to make all kinds of conclusions.

To anyone studying humanity, the big data generated by social media can be hard to resist. But that kind of data is often tainted by bias, argues a new paper published in Science, and data scientists and the public should be on alert.

Black Hat Design

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I ranted a while ago about the design approach of the viral “oops” in which the design misleads the user into doing something (like clicking or ) that gets the content shared throughout his or her network. For example, have you ever saw an article on your newsfeed in Facebook that had an interesting sounding title, clicked on it, and then discovered it was cheap marketing? You immediately click and go on about your business. But in the meanwhile, the Facebook algorithm assumes you liked…

a napa vineyard

Insurance Loopholes and Behavioral Nudges

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Two stories in the news caught my eye today, at first because of the similarities but then because they are so different. OK, now that you are totally confused, let me explain what I mean. The first article was in Bloomberg Business Week and covered the recent earthquake in Napa Valley.

Unless the federal government designates Napa a disaster, winemakers will not be eligible for special loans.

The second story talked about businesses that were hurt by the tornado in July in Revere, MA. Tornados are extremely rare in Revere and very few businesses had tornado insurance. And as with the Napa wineries, most of them are small businesses with an eye on expenses. And as with the Napa wineries’ insurance, many of them found themselves with loophole-riddled policies…

A man serving food from a cafeteria line

Another Great Example of a Helpful Nudge

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I have been a fan of the Smarter Lunchroom Movement ever since I decided to focus my career on behavioral science and cognitive disfluency. This is a great example of how we can use the most basic human behavioral tendencies to make the world a better place. And without being overt, controlling, or suppressive. With marketers using these same techniques to push us towards fast food, it is the least we can do…