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Thinking fast, thinking slow: designing for Cognitive ease

December 08, 2012

Thinking fast, thinking slow: designing for Cognitive ease

Nobel Prize Winner Daniel Kahneman's new book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" takes us on a fascinating tour of the brain, exploring two theoretical systems that drive the way we think and make choices:

“System 1” is fast, intuitive, and emotional
“System 2” is slower, more deliberative and more logical

As experience designers, we need to appeal to both.

I'll be highlighting some of Kahneman's findings that are relevant to us as UX people. Along the way we'll cover some key psychological principles; do some maths; and, of course, reference Steve Krug!


December 08, 2012

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  1. Daniel Kahneman #1   The  Top  10  Psychology   Books

     You  Should  Read   Susan  Weinschenk   h*p://www.theteamw.com/2012/08/02/the-­‐top-­‐10-­‐psychology-­‐books-­‐you-­‐should-­‐read/  
  2. A tale of two systems Dual  process  theory  suggests  two

     different  mental  processes:     System  1     ...operates  automa"cally  and  quickly,  with  li*le  or  no  effort  and  no   sense  of  voluntary  control     System  2   ...allocates  a*en"on  to  complex  computa"ons.  The  opera"ons  of   System  2  are  oIen  associated  with  the  subjec"ve  experience  of   agency,  choice  and  concentra"on  
  3. System 1, System 2 •  How  they  operate   • 

    Quick  thought  experiments   •  Cogni,ve  ease  and  cogni,ve  stress   •  Crea,ng  stress-­‐free  experiences  
  4. System 1 •  Detect  that  one  object  is  more  distant

      than  another   •  Orient  to  the  source  of  a  sudden  sound   •  Make  a  “disgust  face”  when  shown  a   horrible  picture   •  Answer  to  2  +  2  =  ?   •  Read  words  on  a  large  billboard   •  Drive  a  car  on  an  empty  road   •  Understand  simple  sentences    
  5. System 2 •  Brace  for  the  starter  gun  in  a

     race   •  Focus  aYen,on  on  the  clowns  in  the  circus   •  Focus  on  the  voice  of  a  par,cular  person  in  a   crowded  room   •  Search  memory  to  iden,fy  a  surprising  sound   •  Maintain  a  faster  walking  speed  than  is   natural  for  you   •  Monitor  the  appropriateness  of  your   behaviour  in  a  social  situa,on   •  Fill  out  a  tax  form  
  6. Together,  a  bat  and  ball  cost  £1.10   The  bat

     costs  £1  more  than  the  ball   How  much  does  the  ball  cost?  
  7. “The  dis,nc,ve  mark  of  this  easy   puzzle  is  that

     it  evokes  an  answer   that  is  intui,ve,  appealing…   …and  wrong”   Kahneman  
  8. Ball  =   Bat  =   Total  =   £0.10

      £1.10   £1.20   Ball  =   Bat  =   Total  =   £0.05   £1.05   £1.10  
  9. “The  bat  and  ball  problem  is  our   first  encounter

     with  an   observa,on:  that  many  people   find  cogni,ve  effort  at  least  mildly   unpleasant  and  avoid  it  as  much   as  possible”   Kahneman  
  10. Where  possible,  people  take   shortcuts  to  reduce  the  mental

     effort   of  making  decisions.     User  laziness  =  user  smartness   Harry  Brignull   h*p://www.90percentofeverything.com/2008/11/20/user-­‐laziness-­‐user-­‐smartness-­‐and-­‐why-­‐this-­‐is-­‐really-­‐important/  
  11. “When  you  are  in  a  state  of   cogni,ve  ease,

     you  are  probably  in  a   good  mood,  [you]  like  what  you  see,   believe  what  you  hear,  trust  your   intui,ons  and  feel  that  the  current   situa,on  is  comfortably  familiar.”   Kahneman  
  12. “When  you  feel  strained,  you  are   more  likely  to

     be  vigilant  and   suspicious:  [you]  invest  more  effort   in  what  you  are  doing,  feel  less   comfortable,  and  make  fewer  errors,   but  you  also  are  less  intui,ve  and   less  crea,ve  than  usual.”   Kahneman  
  13. Related  experience   Clear  display   Primed  idea   Good

     mood   EASE   Feels  familiar   Feels  true   Feels  good   Feels  effortless   “As  this  figure  indicates,  the  various  ways  of  inducing  cogni,ve   ease  or  strain  are  interchangeable;  you  may    not  know  precisely   what  it  is  that  makes  things  cogni,vely  easy  or  strained.”   Kahneman  
  14. Becoming famous overnight Sebas,an  Weissdorf   Valerie  Marsh   Peter

     Smith   James  Sparkles   JeaneYe  Winters   Michael  Bildren   Claire  Francis   Sebas,an  Weissdorf   Brad  PiY   Valerie  Marsh   Paul  Bloggs   Angelina  Jolie   Andrew  Ar,ngton   Frank  Linmint  
  15. “The  consequences  of  repeated   exposures  benefit  the  organism  in

      its  rela,on  to  the  immediate   environment.  They  allow  the   organism  to  dis,nguish  objects  and   habitats  that  are  safe  from  those   that  are  not.”   Zajonc   The Mere Exposure Effect
  16. The  Consequences  of  Erudite   Vernacular  U,lized   Irrespec,ve  of

     Necessity:   Problems  with  using  long   words  needlessly   Oppenheimer  
  17. “All  of  us  live  much  of  our  life  guided  by

      the  impressions  of  System  1  –  and  we   open  do  not  know  the  source  of  these   impressions.  How  do  you  know  that  a   statement  is  true?  If  it  is  strongly  linked  by   logic  …  or  comes  from  a  source  you  trust  …   you  will  feel  a  sense  of  cogni,ve  ease.  The   trouble  is  that  there  might  be  other  causes   for  your  feeling  of  ease.  On  most  occasions   …  the  lazy  System  2  will  adopt  the   sugges,ons  of  System  1  and  march  on.”   Kahneman  
  18. •  Use  terminology  your  visitors  are  familiar  with  and  

    will  have  seen  before.   •  Avoid  the  use  of  specialist  jargon,  even  if  you  believe   your  audience  is  familiar  with  it.   •  If  you  must  use  specialised  terms,  define  them  well   and  use  them  early  and  open.   •  Make  sure  your  special  terms  are  literally  easy  to   read  –  increase  their  quality  of  ease.   •  Use  high-­‐quality  screen  fonts  and  maximise  contrast   between  characters  and  their  background. Conclusions