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Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made

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In this talk, we will examine the psychological variables influencing decision making and highlight how these factors affect a user’s performance navigating the many decisions embedded in our products and services. The heart of the problem is that the act of complex decision making often exceeds our thinking capacity. To accommodate this resource shortfall, the mind regularly employs a wide array of simplifying heuristics and biases that are typically “good enough” for the more mundane aspects of life but that result in less-than-optimum decisions in critical situations. And while we design assuming a logical, rational decision-making agent, we will also address the debilitating effects of emotions on decisions. Building on this psychological foundation, we will offer examples of how user experience designers can address these issues. You will learn how to facilitate more effective decisions through a variety of design practices.

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Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made

  1. 1. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made
  2. 2. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made Decision making as a window to all behavior The faulty nature of decision making Underlying causes Affects on user behavior and performance Design support
  3. 3. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made Source: CBS. This photo is used here for personal, non-commercial use.
  4. 4. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made Source: CBS. This photo is used here for personal, non-commercial use.
  5. 5. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made Illustration by Julia Suits. This illustration is used here for personal, non-commercial use.
  6. 6. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made We are designed to minimize effort and optimize performance… even in the most critical life decisions… For example: the #1 financial goal of Americans is having enough money to retire Just over half of adult Americans are saving anything for retirement 50% of 45-50 year olds have saved less than $25,000 for retirement CDC: 80 percent of American adults don't get recommended exercise 4 of 5 people sign up for gym memberships but don’t use them 80-95 percent of dieters regain everything they lost within three years
  7. 7. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made Where I am Where I want to be
  8. 8. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made Is it a software or hardware problem? load anxiety near-term focus
  9. 9. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made When faced with a difficult question, we often answer an easier one… Based on a limited pool of attentional resources, we tend to be cognitive misers heuristics and simple rules optimism bias availability bias simplify choices anchoring bias satisficing
  10. 10. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made Load: availability bias (“recency” effect) ๏ The demand for earthquake insurance or flood insurance goes up after an earthquake or flood ๏ After 9/11, some insurance companies offered terrorism insurance at a higher price than the same amount of insurance for death due to any reason – including terrorism (Source: http://www.casact.org/education/infocus/2011/handouts/GS1-Guszcza.pdf)
  11. 11. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made Load: limit options and control disclosure ๏ As designers, do we present every possibility, or control disclosure? Source: The Cheesecake Factory. This screenshot is used here for personal, non-commercial use.A restaurant that only offers one meal: steak and chips Medicare.gov “Summary of Your Search Results” 50 plans available 8 independent filters Cognitive Load Source: Medicare.gov. This screenshot is used here for personal, non-commercial use. Source: Kayak. This screenshot is used here for personal, non-commercial use. Source: Progressive. This screenshot is used here for personal, non-commercial use.
  12. 12. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made What happens if we don’t? confirmational bias selective omission avoidance behavior tunnel vision or cognitive narrowing
  13. 13. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made Emotional impact: anxiety Source: stress.lovetoknow.com/pictures-people-generalized-anxiety-disorder#3. This image is used here for personal, non-commercial use. ๏ Provide the buyer with logical, rational, simple filters ๏ Don’t enable this process to play out emotionally or irrationally in the subconscious Source: Zillow. This screenshot is used here for personal, non-commercial use.
  14. 14. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made Emotional impact: loss aversion Source: ESPN. This photo is used here for personal, non-commercial use.Source: ESPN. This photo is used here for personal, non-commercial use. ๏ "Losing feels worse than winning feels good." - Bill Parcells, NFL Super Bowl winning coach Source: Cohen’s Corner Sports. This photo is used here for personal, non-commercial use. Source: Franklin Templeton Investments. This image is used here for personal, non-commercial use.
  15. 15. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made Emotional impact: loss aversion ๏ Can you pay people to lose weight? Money is a big motivator ๏ We are motivated by immediate awards. Tying an award – a discounted health insurance premium - to a future paycheck is not very motivating ๏ HealthyWage. We are more motivated by losses than gains. We don’t want to lose something we already have, such as $720 put into a weight- loss bet. That is a motivator. ๏ Loss aversion can work if we frame what people may lose ($720) by choosing the non-desired option (not losing weight) Source: HealthyWage. This image is used here for personal, non-commercial use.
  16. 16. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made Emotional impact: self-facilitation Source: The Telegraph. This image is used here for personal, non- commercial use. When we make a purchase, we are making a decision
  17. 17. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made Behavioral economists credit this to an evolutionary bias for near-term survival We should be planning for retirement… …but, that sports car sure looks good in the driveway today
  18. 18. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made at time of purchase when using the product Two days later…
  19. 19. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made For example, while interviewing a future user for the previous slide’s product the conversation might go like this: “I can understand why you like those buttons − you know, I love buttons too, but (pause…) humor me for a moment. What if we designed a device with fewer buttons, but with a lower cost and increased ease of use?” “Here, let me show you……” In other words, I swapped out the “false value” of buttons for the real human value of investment costs − time and money.
  20. 20. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made Design to support “real people” rather than a mythological, rational, logical, agent Consider these behaviors in our interactions with users in the field Seek to counter these persistent psychological forces without venturing too far down the slippery slope of nudging
  21. 21. Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made Faulty by Design ๏ Dr. Bill Gribbons Director of the Graduate Human Factors Program, Bentley University Twitter: @wgribbons ๏ Bob Thomas Director of User Experience, Liberty Mutual Insurance Twitter: @bobthomas

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