Psychology Mis-focus (Zarla Ludin)


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Zarla Ludin's talk from the UXPA 2014 Ignite session "Are you a Super Hero or a Super Villain? Using Design Psychology for Good (and Evil)."

Design Psychology is a powerful tool to wield and can be used to the benefit or detriment of our users; motivating them to behave in ways that can be in their interest, or our own. Our panel of experienced professionals, each with an interest in different facets of design psychology, will choose a white hat or black hat - some taking the side of good and honest intentions, with others taking the dark side where manipulation and coercion reign. On which side will you fall?

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  • As researchers, our work leads to doing design.
    We have to do the research right, so the design is done right.
  • We are always asked: what’d you learn?
    We sometimes have to educate and guide clients and stakeholders about where we can credibly go with what we’ve learned.
  • As snobs, we have to be able to IDENTIFY when research questions are only addressing one aspect of the human condition.
    We also have to be able to see when the research is getting too focused on assumptions.
  • We have to walk a fine line between what we know and think will be good for understanding people, and taking that into another process, and making sure that people on the team feel good.
  • Psychology is a buzzword. It’s a good thing! But at the same time, we have to parse out the buzzword source, and the actual intent of research.
  • Buzzwords build excitement, but at the same time are easy to misinterpret, and can be challenging to align behind.
  • People are more complex than their mental processes.
    As research snobs, we have to make sure we’re capturing the entire human experience, not just what they are thinking.
  • If we examined the behavior of smoking only from a psychology lens, we might miss out on all the other contributing factors to smoking. We might only solve for the psychology problem, but not other problems!
  • Money and time gets in the way of full on holistic research however. We can’t address smoking form all these lenses!
  • But, we just have to be aware that psychology isn’t going to be adequate in addressing big social problems.
  • Here’s a case study
    We worked with a healthcare startup that create apps and online platforms to help people take better care of themselves.
    The client team wanted to focus on motivation and self-control. Two big psychological factors in weight management.
  • They wanted us to use this research to further define their product, which they knew would be a calorie counting app.
  • We had to help our client understand that psychological factors aren’t the only thing that might impact weight management.
  • We decided we would begin the effort with some secondary research. To help us understand how to best create a research protocol.
  • We learned that there are some environmental factors that might contribute to weight issues including having no sidewalks in the neighborhood, living in a food desert, or having a home with more processed food than fresh food. We turned this learning into an observation checklist, and we captured the actual risks people had in their lives that might impede on their weight management goals.
  • We did some research in biology, and learned that weight management issues can also have a genetic component to it.
    If you have a family with weight management issues and other co-morbidity diseases, you are likely to struggle with this as well.
    We incorporated a family history question into our research as well, asking about siblings, parents, etc.
  • We also did some sociological research, which is all about resource use and agency.
    If you live in a less affluent part of town, you are probably less likely to seek out weight management solutions as someone who might live in a more affluent part of town.
    We adjusted our research to look at various demographics. We also did an online study and focused on people with weight management issues who live in the fittest states in the US.
  • So what’d we learn?
    Weight management is a life long challenge for many people.
    It cannot simply be addressed with rational tracking tools.
    Perhaps the app form factor is not appropriate for everyone.
    Finally, we learned that perhaps the company is only focused on targeting the most receptive audience, and completely missing out on the most needy.
  • So, the bottom line is that if we only asked psychology questions, and examined motivation and self control, we wouldn’t have learned that perhaps our client should reconsider their approach.
    We might have sent them down the path of definition, when what they really needed to do was discover, at a holistic level, who they should go after and what they should do to actually help people.
    It’s important for us to know, as research snobs, how to honor our clients, but also do service to the people we study.
  • Psychology Mis-focus (Zarla Ludin)

    1. 1. 2014 Psychology Mis-focus Zarla Ludin Director of Insights Motivate Design
    2. 2. Our work allows other work to get done.
    3. 3. So what’d you learn? Description Some people smoke, but don’t want to. Interpretation Smoking can be social. Implication Replace ments for smoking. Strategy Help people quit smoking.
    5. 5. We have to consider the thoughts and ideas of others.
    7. 7. Why are buzzwords an issue? Knowledge What if we don’t know? Skill What if opinion is misguided ? Attitude What if it stops us?
    8. 8. Psychology is great but it may be only one lens to our learning.
    9. 9. I smoke. Economics Returns for smoking. Psychology Triggers to smoke. Sociology Smoking as a vice. Anthropology Condition s for smoking.
    10. 10. £ ¥€Time
    11. 11. Big topics can’t be considered with just psychology.
    13. 13. Define this product. Form An app. Functionality Counts calories. Target People who use smartpho nes for life goals.
    14. 14. We have to show the value of a holistic approach.
    16. 16. Epidemiology observe risk factors and patterns.
    17. 17. Biology ask about family history.
    18. 18. Sociology learn about how they use resources.
    19. 19. Source for all images: So what’d we learn? Description Weight managem ent is difficult. Interpretation Counting calories is too rational. Implication App is good for the company, not the custome Strategy Target the most needy, not the most
    20. 20. EVIL: WHEN IT’S THE ONLY