1 You Have Inattention Blindness
So what does this mean if you are designing a website or something on a computer screen? It means that you can’t assume that just because something is on the screen means that people see it. This is especially true when you refresh a screen and make one change on it. People may not realize they are even looking at a different screen. Remember, just because something happens in the visual field doesn’t mean that people are consciously aware of it.
2 You Read Faster With a longer Line Length But Prefer Shorter
Research (see reference below) demonstrates that 100 characters per line is the optimal length for on-screen reading speed; but it’s not what people prefer. People read faster with longer line lengths (100 characters per line), but they prefer a short or medium line length (45 to 72 characters per line). In the example above from the New York Times Reader, the line length averages 39 characters per line.
3 You Can Only Remember 3 to 4 Things At A Time
You can remember about 3-4 things (for about 20 seconds) and then they will disappear from memory unless you repeat them over and over. For example, let’s say you are driving in your car and talking on your cell phone (ok, you shouldn’t be doing that) and someone gives you a number to call. But you don’t have a pen handy, and anyway you are driving. So you try to memorize the number long enough to hang up from one call and dial the new number. What do you do? You repeat the number over and over (putting it back into short term memory each time, which buys you another 20 seconds). The interesting thing about phone numbers is that they are more than 3 or 4 numbers long. So they are hard to remember for more than 20 seconds.
We also tend to chunk information into groups that have 3-4 items in them. So a phone number in the US is: 712-569-4532. Three chunks, with 3-4 items in each chunk.
4 You Imagine Objects From Above and Tilted
It seems to be a universal trait that we think about, remember, imagine and recognize objects from this canonical perspective. Why care? Well, if you want to use icons at your web site or in your web or software application that people will recognize, then you might want to use this perspective. This is probably not so critical if you are using a well known logo, for example, the logo for itunes or Firefox, but becomes important if the icon is not as familiar, such as recognizing below that one of the logos is of a truck, or a photo printer.
5 You Make Most of Your Decisions Unconsciously
It’s not what you think — I cover this topic in my book Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? You like to think that when you make a decision you have carefully and logically weighed all the relevant factors. In the case of the TV, you have considered the size of TV that works best in your room, the brand that you have read is the most reliable, the competitive price, whether you should get blu-ray, etc etc. But the research on decision-making, especially the recent research, shows that although you want to think that your decision-making is a conscious, deliberate process, it’s not. Most decisions are made through unconscious mental processing.
6 You Reconstruct Your Memories
Our memories are actually reconstructed every time we think of them. They aren’t movie clips that are stored in the brain in a certain location like files on a hard drive. They are nerve pathways that are firing anew each time we remember the event. This makes for some interesting effects. For example, the memory can change.
7 You Actually Cannot Multi-Task
For many years the psychology research has shown that people can only attend to one task at a time. Let me be even more specific. The research shows that people can attend to only one cognitive task at a time. You can only be thinking about one thing at a time. You can only be conducting one mental activity at a time. So you can be talking or you can be reading. You can be reading or you can be typing. You can be listening or you can be reading. One thing at a time.
8 Dopamine Makes You Addicted To Seeking Information
The latest research, though is changing this view. Instead of dopamine causing us to experience pleasure, the latest research shows that dopamine causes seeking behavior. Dopamine causes us to want, desire, seek out, and search. It increases our general level of arousal and our goal-directed behavior. (From an evolutionary stand-point this is critical. The dopamine seeking system keeps us motivated to move through our world, learn, and survive). It’s not just about physical needs such as food, or sex, but also about abstract concepts. Dopamine makes us curious about ideas and fuels our searching for information. The latest research shows that it is the opioid system (separate from dopamine) that makes us feel pleasure.
9 Blue and Red Together is Hard On Your Eyes
When lines (or letters) of different colors are projected or printed, the depths of the lines may appear to be different; lines of one color may “jump out” while lines of another color are recessed. This effect is called Chromostereopsis. This effect is strongest with red and blue, but it can also happen with other colors (for example, red and green).
10 You Want More Choices and Information Than You Can Actually Process
In my book, Neuro Web Design, What makes them click? I talk about the classic research in the field of choice. Iyengar and Lepper (2000) decided to test out the theory that if you have too many choices you don’t choose at all. They set up booths at a busy upscale grocery store and posed as store employees. They alternated the selection on the table. Half of the time there were six choices of fruit jam for people to try and the other half of the time there were twenty-four jars of jam.
11 Why You Cannot Resist Paying Attention to Food, Sex, or Danger
The job of your old brain is to constantly scan the environment and answer the questions: “Can I eat it? Can I have sex with it? Will it kill me?” That’s really all the old brain cares about, is food sex and danger. When you think about it, this is important. Without food you’ll die, without sex the species won’t continue, and if you are killed the other two questions don’t matter. So animal brains developed early on to care intensely about these three topics. As animals evolved they developed other capacities (emotions, logical thought), but they retained a part of their brain to always be scanning what is going on for these three critical questions.
12 When it comes to technology, you definitely act your age
Boomers think that technology is a separate thing. They “go on” the internet. They “make a call on the cell phone”. They look something up “on the computer”. They have a distinction between doing a task and the “tool” that they do the task with. Millennials don’t have that dualism or separation. They look something up (of course they are doing it on the computer… why would you even think to say it that way?). They make a call or text someone… the technology is implied and assumed.
Gen Xers live their life with technology. They work with it, they use it to be more productive. They like to customize and personalize. The Gen Xers are actually the group that is most enamored by technology, but at the same time they feel trapped by it. Boomers, on the other hand, remember life without it, so Boomers may use it and may be addicted to it like everyone else, but they can more easily let it go and live without it.
13 Want To Change a Habit? Use Fun, Surprise, and a Crowd
When you are changing a habit, you substitute a new habit for the old one. To jump start this process, make the new habit fun. It will probably need to be a lot more fun for it to even begin to be enticing.
People like surprises (as long as the surprise is pleasant or fun). Research on the brain shows that surprises capture human interest and attention. There is also research to show that things that are unpredictable elicit activity in the parts of the brain that anticipate rewards.
14 Reading Text Online Is Not Fun
The result is that reading text online is tiring to the eyes. People are only going to read a limited amount of text at a time on a computer screen.
Resolution of screens play a big part in it as well.
15 If You Use Social Media Without Laughter You Are Not Being Social
Considering how universal laughter is and how much of it we do, there is, relatively, not a lot of research on laughter. One of the main researchers is Robert Provine from University of Maryland. Here is a summary of some of the research he has done…
16 The Ability To Delay Gratification Or Not Starts Young
Starting in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Walter Mischel began conducting a series of studies similar to the video. He was interested in the idea of delayed gratification. Years later he decided to follow up with the original people in his study. He found that when the people in the study who were able to delay gratification became teenagers, they were more successful in school, received higher test scores on the SAT, and were better able to cope with stress and frustration. He’s followed them even further into adulthood and the differences continue. The children in the original studies that could not delay gratification as pre-schoolers, were more likely to have problems as adults, including drug abuse.
17 Your Unconscious Knows First
You are shopping for a new computer and the salesperson you are talking to is offering you what seems to be a good deal. And yet there is a part of you that feels uncomfortable and isn’t sure if this is the right computer, or the right deal, or the right store for you. If you had to articulate why you felt uncomfortable you might not be able to say why, or you’d make up a reason, but that might not really be the reason. So what’s going on?
18 What People Look At On a Picture Or Screen Depends On What You Say To Them
Eye tracking is a technology that allows you to see and record what a person is looking at, and for how long. One way it is used is to study web sites to see where people are looking on a web page, where they look first, second, etc. It’s a pretty interesting technology, one of the benefits being that you don’t have to rely on what people SAY they are looking at, but can collect the data directly. Like any technology, however, it’s not perfect, and one of the problems with eye tracking is that you can’t just give people a web site to look at and then assume that where they look is what they are “really interested” in.
19 It is a Myth That All Capital Letters Are Inherently Harder to Read
When you read you have the impression that your eyes are smoothly moving across the page, but that’s not what is happening at all. Your eyes move in quick sharp jumps, with short periods of stillness in between. The quick jumps are called saccades and the fixations are the moments of stillness. Interestingly ,during the saccades you can’t see anything — you are essentially blind. Fortunately these saccades are really fast so you are not blind for long. They are so fast that you don’t even realize you are having them.
20 Your Attention Is Riveted By Pictures Of People
The latest research implies that there is a part of the brain that is focused on recognizing human faces, as well as interpreting the emotion that is on the human face. Fearful and angry faces get the most and quickest attention, but any face gets a lot of attention. The circuitry in the brain from this specialized spot is believe to go right to the amygdala, which processes emotions. So it is fast, since it doesn’t have to go through the normal route that most vision goes through (the cortex and conscious mind). This means that you are processing faces unconsciously.
21 You Overestimate Your Reactions to Future Events
In his great book, Stumbling on Happiness, Dan Gilbert discusses the research he and others have conducted on predicting or estimating emotional reactions to events. What he has found is that people greatly overestimate the reaction they think they will have to both pleasant and unpleasant events that happen in one’s life. Whether it is predicting how you will feel if a negative event happens, for example, if you lose your job, have an accident, or if a loved one dies, or predicting how you will feel if a positive event happens, such as coming into a lot of money, landing the dream job, or finding the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend, everyone tends to overestimate their reaction. If the event is negative you predict that you will be very upset and devastated for a long time. If the event is positive you predict that you will be deliriously happy for a long time.
22 Peripheral Vison — Keeping You Alive or Channel Surfing?
Basically, you have two types of vision: Central and Peripheral. Central vision is the vision you have when you look at something directly and see the details. Peripheral vision is the rest of the visual field that is visible, but that you are not looking directly at.
23 You Are Hard-Wired For Imitation and Empathy
In the front of the brain there is a section called the premotor cortex; motor as in movement. This is the part of the brain where you make plans to move. (It talks to the primary motor cortex which is the part of the brain that sends out the signals that actually make you move). So if you are holding an ice cream cone and you think about moving your arm to bring the ice cream cone up to your mouth, and then you do it, you can see first the premotor cortex lighting up and then the primary motor cortex lighting up. Neurons in the premotor cortex are firing — nothing surprising there. But here is where it gets interesting. If you watch someone else lift their arm and eat the ice cream cone a subset of the same neurons also fire. Just watching other people take an action causes some of the same neurons to fire as if you were actually moving. This subset of neurons have been dubbed, “mirror neurons”. We share these mirror neurons with other primates as well.
24 You Are Most Affected By Brands and Logos When You Are Sad Or Scared
A series of research studies by Marieke de Vries of Radboud University Nijmegen, in the Netherlands, shows that when people are sad or scared, they want what is familiar. When people are in a happy mood they are not as sensitive to what is familiar, and are willing to try something new and different.
25 Trust Your Gut or Be Logical?
When to use deliberative decision-making — Research by Dijksterhuis shows that when you have simple decision to make you make better decisions when you use a logical deliberative method.
When to use intuitive decision-making — Research by Shiv shows that when you have a complicated decision to make, you make better decisions when you use an intuitive or “gut” method.
26 Culture shapes our brains
And now I’ve come across an entirely new reason to be skeptical about the theories we have about how the brain works — cultural effects. In his book, The Geography of Thought, Richard Nisbitt discusses research that shows that how we think — our cognitive processes — are influenced and shaped by culture. For example, if you show people from “the West” (US, Europe) a picture, they focus on a main or dominant foreground object, while people from Asia pay more attention to context and background. Asian people who grow up in the West show the Western pattern, not the Asian pattern, showing that this is based on culture, not genetics.
27 We go below the fold
I believe it still holds true that the most important content should be above the fold, and that if it is above the fold then it is most likely that people will see it. BUT, if it’s below the fold that doesn’t mean people WON’T see it. Ok, not a definitive answer I know, but the best we can do right now with the data we have (stay tuned… I plan to do some research of my own on this topic).
28 Things that are close together seem to belong together
In the image below of the Crutchfield page, there is a gray arrow that ends up being very close to the text on the left that says, “connect with a true audiovideo specialist”. Because that arrow is so close to the text (and actually appears to “point” to the text), the text and pictures “belong” together and become connected (as they should).
29 Brand Names Talk To Our Old Brains
Brand names talk to the old brain because they activate the idea of safety. A brand name means that the item is not an unknown. And if the brand name is positive to you, then the brand name signals safety to the old brain. (If you have had a negative experience with the brand then it will be the opposite. I had a bad experience with Panasonic once many many years ago, and for over two decades I wouldn’t buy anything made by Panasonic. Recently I’ve reluctantly let go of that “ban”, but I still prefer not to buy Panasonic. I can’t even remember what the product was that upset me so much, but in my head Panasonic = maybe not reliable).
30 Our strong tie group size is 150 people
I think both Dunbar and Morgan are right. It’s critical that we pay attention to that 150 number for our “survival” community in close proximity. If we don’t feel we have that “tribe” near us it causes us to feel alienated, isolated and stressed. Perhaps one of the reasons social media is so popular, and so many of us rely on Facebook and Twitter is that we don’t have a strong tie tribe. Although the weak tie network of social media helps us to feel connected, we’ll eventually feel let down if we try to have it substitute for a strong tie Dunbar tribe.
31 The Desire For Control And Choice Is Built In
The desire to control our environment is built into us. This makes sense, since by controlling our environment we likely increase our chances of surviving. Iyengar’s discussion in her new book about choices got me thinking about control, and the relationship between having lots of choices and being in control. The desire to control is related to the desire to have choices.
32 Synchronous activity bonds the group
Anthropologists have long been interested in rituals among certain cultures. Many rituals in a culture involve singing, chanting, drumming, dancing, or moving together. A recent study (see below for full reference) shows that when people take part in synchronous activities they then are more cooperative with each other when participating later in different activities.
33 Bite-Sized Chunks Of Info Are Best
Humans can only process small amounts of information at a time (consciously that is… the estimate is that we handle 40,000,000 pieces of information every second, but only 40 of those make it to our conscious brains). There is no chunking here, there is not progressive disclosure. It’s just all the information thrown on the page all at once. The result? You don’t read it, you just leave.
34 Too Much Stress Results In Poor Performance
Research on stress shows that a little bit of stress (called arousal in psychology terms) can help you perform a task, because it heightens awareness. Too much stress, however, degrades performance. Two psychologists, Robert Yerkes and John Dodson first postulated this arousal/performance relationship, and hence it has been called the “Yerkes-Dodson law” for over a century.
35 People Make Mistakes
People make mistakes. Whether the user makes a mistake in working with a computer, or a company that makes a mistake by releasing software that has too many errors, or a designer designs something that is unusable because he or she doesn’t understand what the user needs to do. Everyone makes mistakes.
36 People are Inherently Lazy
Over eons of evolution humans have learned that they will survive longer and better if they conserve their energy. We’ve learned that we want to spend enough energy to have enough resources (food, water, sex, shelter), but beyond that we are wasting our energy if we spend too much time running around getting stuff.
37 People Assume It Is You, Not The Situation
If you answer “Well, he’s a self-absorbed person who doesn’t usually help out strangers on the street” then chances are likely that you have just made a “fundamental attribution” error. People have a tendency to give personality based explanations for other peoples behavior more weight than situational factors. Instead of explaining the person’s behavior in the story above as being due to his “self absorption”, you might ascribe his behavior to the situation, for example, “He’s late for a critical meeting with the bank and doesn’t have time to stop today. In other circumstances he would have stopped.”
38 Even The Illusion Of Progress Is Motivating
The goal-gradient effect says that you will accelerate your behaviour as you progress closer to your goal. The scenarios I describe above were part of a research study by Ran Kivetz, Oleg Urminsky, and Yuhuang Zheng (full reference is below). They decided to see if humans would behave like the rats. And the answer is, yes they do.
39 Your Mind Wanders 30% of the Time
We underestimate our mind wandering; according to Jonathan Schooler of UC, Santa Barbara, we think our minds are wandering about 10% of the time, when it is actually much more. In normal every day activities our mind is wandering up to 30% of the time, and in some cases, for instance when driving on an uncrowded highway, it might be as high as 70%.
40 You are Easily Influenced, but I am not
So why the self-deception? It’s partly because all this influence is happening unconsciously. We literally aren’t aware that we are being influenced. And it’s also partly because we don’t like to think of ourselves as so easily swayed, or so “gullible”. To be gullible is to not be in control, and our old brain, the part of our brain that is concerned with survival, always wants us to be in control.
41 Your Most Vivid Memories Are Wrong
It turns out, though, that those memories are full of errors. Ulric Neisser researches memories like these. In 1986 the space shuttle Challenger exploded upon take-off. Any of you reading this who are old enough to remember the Challenger explosion probably remember it vividly, i.e., as a flashbulb memory. Neisser took the opportunity to do some research. The day after the explosion he had his students (he is a professor) write down their memories of what had happened, where they were, what they were wearing, what the TV coverage was like, etc. Three years later he asked them to write down their memory of the event again. Most (over 90%) of the 3-yr later reports differed. Half of them were inaccurate in 2/3 of the details. One person, when shown her first description written three years earlier, on the day after the event, said, “I know that’s my handwriting, but I couldn’t possibly have written that”. Similar research has been conducted on the 9/11 memories, with similar results.
42 We will spend more money if you do not mention money
Cassie Mogilner and Jennifer Aaker from the Stanford Graduate School of Business conducted a series of experiments to see whether references to time or references to money would affect whether people stop to buy, how much people are willing to pay, and how satisfied people are with the products they buy.
43 People Expect Online Interactions to Follow Social Rules
When people go to a website or use an online application, they have assumptions about how the website will respond to them and what the interaction will be like. And many of these expectations mirror the expectations that they have for person-to-person interactions. If the website is not responsive or takes too long to load, it is like talking to a person who is not looking at you, or is ignoring you. If the website asks for personal information too soon in the flow of the interaction, that is like the other person getting too personal. If the website does not save your information from session to session, that is like the other person not recognizing you or remembering that you have already established a relationship.
44 When Uncertain, People Look To Others to Decide What To Do
Whether or not the participant left the room and/or went to get help, or whether they stayed there and kept filling out the form, depended on the behavior of the other people in the room, as well as how many other people there were. The more people in the room, and the more the others ignored the smoke, the more the participant was likely to also ignore the smoke. If the participant was alone they would go leave the room and go to notify someone. But if there were others in the room not reacting, then the participant would also not react.
45 You Choose (And Vote For) The First One On The List
Felfernig (2007) set up a research study to find out. Even though there were 10 attributes that the tents were compared on, participants focused only on two or three attributes. The researchers varied the order in which the tents appeared on the page: first, second, third, or fourth. It turns out that the most important attribute was not whether the tent was waterproof or if it had plenty of air ventilation. The most important attribute was the order in which the tents appeared on the page! Participants disregarded attributes and simply picked whichever tent was the first one to show. People picked the first tent 2.5 times more than any other. They chose the first tent 200 times; they chose the other three tents (combined) only 60 times. This is an example of the order effect.
46 The more uncertain you are, the more you dig in and defend your ideas
So you might be able to guess what happened when I went to dinner with a colleague who was showing me his Android phone. He loves his new Android phone and wanted to show me all the great ways it was as good as, or better than, my iPhone. I was totally uninterested in hearing about it. I didn’t even want to look at it. Basically, I didn’t want to allow into my brain any information that would conflict with my opinion that anything besides an iPhone was even a possibility. I was showing classical symptoms of cognitive dissonance denial.
47 People Value A Product More Highly If It Is Physically In Front Of Them
The researchers hypothesize that there is a physical Pavlovian response going on: When the product is actually available, that acts as a conditioned stimulus and elicits a response. The images and even text could become a conditioned stimulus and produce the same response, but they have not been set up in the brain to trigger the same response as the actual item.
48 What You See Is Not What Your Brain Gets
Can you read this?: Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, the oredr of lteetrs in a wrod is nto vrey iprmoetnt. Waht mttaers is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The ohter letetrs can be a ttoal mses and you can sitll raed wthuot mcuh probelm. Tihs is bcauseae yuor brian deos not raed ervey lteter, but raeds wrods and gruops of wrods.
49 The Brain Looks For Simple Patterns
Recognising patterns helps you make quick sense of all the sensory input that comes to you every second. Your eyes and your brain will want to create patterns, even if there are no real patterns there. Your brain wants to see patterns.
50 9% Of Men And 0.5% Of Women Are Colorblind
Let’s compare what people see who have different types of color blindness. I’ve put three different screen captures from a post at this blog. The first picture below is how it appears to someone who has no color blindness, the second is how it appears to someone with red-green color blindness, and the last one is how it appears o someone with blue-yellow color blindness.
51 You React To Colors Based On Your Culture
Some colors have similar meanings everywhere, for example, gold stands for success and high quality in most cultures, but most colors have different meanings in different cultures. For example, in the US, white stands for purity and is used at weddings, but in other cultures white is the color used for death and funerals. David McCandless of Informationisbeautiful.net has a color chart that shows how different colors are viewed by different cultures.
52 People Create Mental Models
“A mental model represents a person’s thought process for how something works (i.e., a person’s understanding of the surrounding world). Mental models are based on incomplete facts, past experiences, and even intuitive perceptions. They help shape actions and behavior, influence what people pay attention to in complicated situations, and define how people approach and solve problems.”
Users create mental models very quickly - often before they even use a website or a product. Users’ mental models come from their prior experience with similar sites or products, assumptions they have, things they’ve heard others say, and also from their direct experience with the product or device. Mental models are subject to change.
53 People See Cues About How To Use An Object
You’ve probably had the experience of encountering a door handle that doesn’t work the way it should – for example, it has a handle that looks like you should pull, but in fact you need to push. In the “real” world, objects communicate to you about how you can, and should, interact with them. For example, by their size and shape, some door knobs invite you to grab and turn them; other door knobs invite you to grab and pull; the curved handle on a coffee mug tells you to curl a few fingers through it and lift it up. A pair of scissors invites you to put fingers through the circles and move your thumb up and down to open and close. Psychologists call these cues “affordances”.
54 The Average Reading Level In the USA Is Grade 8
This web page had a reading level of Grade 12 and a reading ease score of 40. Americans average a reading level of Grade 8, so 12 is harder than the average American can read. For the reading ease score, higher is better. Comic books are at 90, and legal documents are often 10 and under.
55 During Sleep You Consolidate Learnings and Memories
Wilson started a series of experiments to study this more. And through his experiments he has come up with a theory, not just about rats, but about people too: When you sleep and when you dream you are reworking, or consolidating, your experiences from the day. Specifically you are consolidating new memories and making new associations from the information you processed during the day. Your brain is deciding what to remember and what to let go of, or forget.
56 People Process Information Best In Story Form
They grab and hold attention. But they do more than that. They also help people process information and they imply causation. Aristotle identified the basic structure of stories, and many people have expounded on his ideas since. One model is the basic three act structure: Beginning, Middle and the End. This may not sound very unusual, but when Aristotle came up with it over 2000 years ago it was probably pretty radical.
57 There Are 4 Types Of Creativity
Arne Dietrich (2004) identifies 4 different types of creativity with corresponding different brain activities. Creativity can be either emotionally or cognitively based, and it can also be spontaneous or deliberate. That gives you the four quadrants.
58 People See What They Expect To See
The security personnel miss the loaded handgun and bomb parts at least in part because they don’t encounter them frequently. The security person is working for hours at a time, watching people, and looking at the scanner screen. An expectation develops about how frequently certain violations occur. For example, he or she probably encounters too large containers of shampoo, or nail scissors fairly often, and so expects to see those, and then notices them when they appear. On the other hand, he or she probably does not encounter loaded handguns or bomb parts very often. Bellenkes (1997) conducted research these frequency expectations, and found that people create a mental model about how frequently an event is likely to occur. Unconsciously, that expectation affects how much they look for an event to occur, which affects how much attention they pay to looking for the event.
59 Time Is Perceived as Relative
In his interesting book, The Time Paradox, Philip Zimbardo discusses how our experience of time is relative, not absolute. There are time illusions, just like there are visual illusions. The more mental processing you do, the more time you think has elapsed. If people have to stop and think at each step of a task, they will feel that the task is taking too long. The mental processing makes the amount of time seem longer.
60 Cognitive Loads Are The Most Expensive
From a human factors point of view, when you are designing a product, application, or website, you are always making trade-offs. If you have to add a few clicks, but by doing so the person doesn’t have to think or remember as much, that is worth it. Clicking is less of a load than thinking. I once did some research on this topic. People had to go through more than 10 clicks to get the task done, and at the end they would look up and smile and say, “That was easy!” because each step was logical and gave them what they expected. They didn’t have to think. Clicking is less of a load than thinking.
61 People Learn Best By Example
Screen shots or pictures are not the only way to provide examples. At the MailChimp site there are also links to videos that walk you through the same steps. Videos are some of the most effective ways to give examples online. Videos combine movement, sound and vision, and don’t require reading. So they are attention-getting and engaging.
62 People Love To Categorise
People naturally create categories. Just like learning a native language happens naturally, so does learning to categorise the world around us. Categorising doesn’t emerge as a skill until about age 7. Younger than 7, and certainly younger than 5, thinking about categories just doesn’t make sense to children. After the age of 7, however, people become fascinated with categorising information.
63 Group Decision-Making Is Faulty
Andreas Mojzisch and Stefan Schulz-Hardt (2010) presented people with information on prospective job candidates. People who received information on the group’s preferences before reviewing the candidate information, did not review the candidate information fully, and therefore did not make the best decisions. In a memory test they did not remember the most relevant information. The researchers concluded that when a group of people starts a discussion by sharing their initial preferences, they spend less time and less attention on the information that is available outside of the group’s preferences. And they therefore make a less than optimal decision.
64 Groups Are Swayed By A Dominant Personality
During the problem solving session the researchers videotaped the group conversations and reviewed them later to decide who was the leader of each group. They had multiple sets of observers view the videos to see if there was consensus about who the leaders were. They also asked the people in the groups who they thought was the leader of their group. Everyone agreed on who the leader was in each group. Before the groups started, everyone filled out a questionnaire to measure level of dominance. As you might imagine, the leaders had all scored high on the dominance measure. But that still doesn’t say how they became leaders. Were they the people with the best math SAT scores? (No). Did they bully everyone else into letting them be the leader? (No).
65 Seven Emotions Are Universal
Paul Ekman says the answer is yes. He has been studying emotions for many years and in different geographies and cultures. He has identified seven emotions that seem to be universal: * Joy * Sadness * Anger * Contempt * Surprise * Disgust * Fear
66 Emotions Are Tied To Muscle Movement
David Havas (2010) gave people instructions to contract specific muscles – the muscles used in smiling. When the participants contracted those muscles they had a hard time generating a feeling of anger. When he instructed them to contract the muscles that are used when you frown, the participants had a hard time feeling friendly or happy.
67 Anecdotes Persuade More Than Data
Why anecdotes speak louder than data –– Anecdotes are in story form. They will invoke empathy, which triggers emotional reactions. With emotional reactions people will process the data and the feelings. Emotions will also trigger the memory centers in the brain.
68 Smells Evoke Emotions and Memories
The thalamus is a part of the brain that is between the cerebral cortex and the midbrain. One of the functions of the thalamus is to process sensory information and send it to the appropriate part of the cortex. For example, visual information comes from the retina, goes to the thalamus and then gets routed to the primary visual cortex. All of the senses send their data to the thalamus before the information goes anywhere else, with the exception of smell. The olfactory system does not go through the thalamus. When you smell something, that sensory data goes right to your amygdala. The amygdala is where emotional information is processed. This is why people react emotionally to smells: You smell a flower and it makes you happy. You smell rotten meat and it makes you feel disgusted. The amygdala is right next to the memory centers of the brain. This is also why you can smell something and have memories invoked.
69 Your Brain Craves Surprises
Research by Gregory Berns (2001) shows that the human brain is not only looking for the unexpected, it actually craves the unexpected. Berns used a computer-controlled device to squirt either water or fruit juice into people’s mouths while their brains were being scanned by an fMRI device. Sometimes the participants could predict when they were going to get a squirt, but other times it was unpredictable. The researchers thought that they would see activity based on what people liked. For example, if people liked juice then they would see activity in the nucleus accumbens area of the brain. The nucleus accumbens is the part of the brain that is active when people are experiencing pleasurable events.
70 People Are Happier Busy And With A Challenge
Research by Christopher Hsee and colleagues shows that you are happier when you are busy. This is somewhat of a paradox. In another post I write about the research that shows that people are actually lazy. Unless people have a reason for being active, they choose to do nothing, thereby conserving energy. But doing nothing makes people impatient and unhappy.
71 People Like Pastoral Scenes
According to Denis Dutton, a philosopher and the author of The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution, this is because of evolution and the Pleistocene era. Dutton says that this typical landscape scene includes hills, water, trees (that are good for hiding in if a predator comes by), birds and animals, and a path moving through the scene. This is an ideal landscape for humans (protection, water, food).
72 Trust Is The Best Predictor Of Happiness
Eric Weiner traveled all over the world in search of answers to the questions: Which countries have the happiest people and why? His answers surprised him and they surprised me too. Based on research, Iceland comes out towards the top of the pile, and Saudi Arabia towards the bottom.
But the best predictor of happiness is trust. If people trust the people around them, friends, and family, and if they trust their government, then they will score highest on the happiness surveys.
73 First Screening About Trusting A Website Is Based On The Look And Feel
When participants in the study rejected a health website as not being trustworthy, 83% of their comments were related to design factors, such as an unfavorable first impression of the look and feel, poor navigation, color, text size and the name of the website.
74 Listening To Music Releases Dopamine In The Brain
The researchers saw the same pattern of brain and body activity when people were listening to their music as they see when people feel euphoria and craving when they get a reward. The experience of pleasure corresponded with dopamine release in one part of the brain (striatal dopaminergic system). When people were anticipating a pleasurable part of the music (participants were listening to their favorite music, so they knew what part of the music was coming next), then there was a dopamine release in a different part of the brain (nucleus accumbens).
75 The More Difficult Something Is To Attain, The More People Like It
The first research on this initiation effect was done by Elliott Aronson at Stanford University in 1959. Aronson set up three initiation scenarios (severe, medium and mild, although the severe was not really that severe) and randomly assigned people to the conditions. He did indeed find that the more difficult the initiation, the more people liked the group.
76 Anticipation Trumps The Actual Experience
Contrast that with the actual experience of the trip and you may find that the anticipation was better than the trip. In fact, Terence Mitchell (1997) conducted research on just this situation. He studied people who were taking either a trip to Europe, a short trip over the USA Thanksgiving holiday weekend, or a 3-week bicycle tour of California.
Before the event people looked forward to the trip with positive emotions, but during the trip their ratings of the trip were not that positive. The little disappointments that always occur while traveling colored their emotional landscape to the point where they felt less positive about the trip in general. Interestingly, a few days after the trip, the memories became rosy again.
77 Not All Mistakes Are Bad
Van Der Linden’s idea is that errors have consequences, but, contrary to what most people think, not all of the consequences are negative. Although it’s possible, and even likely, that making an error has a negative consequence, it’s also likely that the error has a positive or a neutral outcome.
78 People of Different Ages Have Different Error Strategies
When people use systematic exploration, this means that when they make a mistake they stop and think about what procedures they are going to use to correct the error. For example, let’s say that a user is trying to figure out how to email a picture with the smartphone/camera. She tried one menu and that didn’t work, so now she sets out to see what each item in the menu system does for the camera part of the device. She starts at the first item in the first menu and works her way through all the choices in the part of the product controls having to do with the camera. She is systematically exploring.
79 People Use A Schema To Encode And Remember
If you can connect new information you encounter to information that is already stored, then it will be easier for it to stick, or stay in long-term memory, and easier to get it out of your memory. A schema allows you to build up these associations in long term memory. Just one schema helps you organize a lot of information.
80 Behaviour Can Be Shaped
If you studied psychology years ago, you may remember BF Skinner and his work during the 20th century on operant conditioning. Skinner studied whether behavior increased or decreased based on how often, and in what manner, you provide a “reinforcement” (reward).
81 Intrinsic Rewards Trump Extrinsic Rewards
The real part of the experiment came 2 weeks later. During playtime the drawing tools were put out in the room. The children weren’t asked anything about drawing, the tools were just put in the room and available. So what happened? Children in Groups 2 and 3, the Unexpected and the Control Groups spent the most time drawing. The children in Group 1, the ones who had received an expected reward, spent the least time drawing. “Contingent” rewards (rewards given based on specific behavior that is spelled out ahead of time) resulted in less of the desired behavior. Later the researchers went on to do more studies like this, and with adults as well as children, finding similar results.
82 People Are Motivated By Progress And Mastery
Because mastery is such a powerful motivator, even small signs of progress can have a large effect in motivating people move forward to the next step in a task. At Linked In, they encourage you to finish filling in information on your profile by showing you how much information you have already answered.
83 People Will Use Shortcuts Only If They Are Easy
This is especially true if it is a task they are doing over and over. But if the shortcut is too hard to find, or if a habit is ingrained, then people will keep doing it the old way. This seems paradoxical, but it’s all about the amount of perceived work. If it seems like too much work to find a shortcut, then people will stay with their old habits.
84 Average Time To Form A Habit Is 66 Days
Philippa Lally (2010) recently studied the how and how long of forming habits. She had people choose an eating, drinking or activity behavior to carry out every day for 12 weeks. In addition, the participants in the research would go online and complete a self-report habit index (SRHI) each day, to record whether they had carried out the behavior.
85 More People = Less Desire To Compete
Garcia and Tor first compared SAT scores for locations that had a lot of people in the room taking the test versus locations that had smaller numbers. They adjusted the scores to control for the educational budget in that region and other factors. Students who took the SAT test in a room with less people scored higher.
86 How Much People Lie Depends On The Medium
Lest you think only the students would lie, Naquin and team performed additional studies with managers. One hundred and seventy-seven managers played a group financial game. Participants were assigned to teams of three. Each member of the team had a chance to play the role of a manager of a project team who was allocating money for projects. They played with real money, and they were told that the amount of money that was available would be revealed after the game. Some participants were told to communicate via email and others with paper and pen. The managers who communicated via email lied more, and kept more money for themselves, compared to the managers who communicated with paper and pen.
87 Speaker and Listener Brains Sync
In Stephen’s study, the more the brains were synced up the more the listener understood the ideas and message from the speaker. And by watching what parts of the brain were lighting up, Stephens could see that the parts of the brain that have to do with prediction and anticipation were active. The more active they were, the more successful was the communication.
88 Your Brain Has A Special Response To People You Know
Krienen and team found tested these theories. They found that when people answered questions about friends, whether or not they felt they were similar to their friends, the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) was active. The MPFC is the part of the brain that is active in perceiving value and regulating social behavior. When people thought about others that they don’t know, but have common interests with (are similar to), the MPFC was not active.
89 You Can Tell If A Smile Is Real Or Fake More Accurately With Video
After Duchenne, several researchers used these ideas to research smiling. For years it was believed that the Duchenne smiles were the ones that were seen as genuine, that it was not possible to “fake” a smile, because up to 80% of people can’t consciously control the muscles around the eyes that make them crinkle. Why all the interest in whether a smile is real or fake? Because people are quicker to trust and like other people who are showing what is believed to be genuine emotions rather than fake or contrived ones.
90 Recognition Is Easier Than Recall
Recognition vs. recall is one of the ways that computer interfaces have changed over time. Many years ago (back before graphical user interfaces were around), people would have to recall a lot more information. For example, there weren’t pull down menus with lists of choices. You had to remember what the choices were and type them in from memory. Worse you probably had to remember what the code was for the choice you wanted and type the code in. This is a recall memory task, and added to the difficulty of use of these early systems. One reason that “Windows” interfaces are easier is that they don’t require as much recall memory. They make more use of recognition memory.
91 Size Matters When It Comes To Fonts
Some fonts can be the same size as others, but look bigger, due to the x-height. The x-height is literally the height of the small letter x in the font family. Look at the illustration at the top of the post to see how the x-height is measured. Different fonts have different x-heights, and as a result, some fonts look larger than others, even though they are the same font point size.
92 There Is A Brain Area Dedicated To Perceiving Faces
Although the visual cortex is huge and takes up a large amount of brain resources, there is a special part of the brain outside of the visual cortex whose role it is to recognize faces. It’s called the fusiform face area, or FFA (Kanwisher, 1997). This special part of the brain is also near the amygdala, which is the emotional center of the brain. This means that faces grab attention, are recognized quickly, and bypass the usual brain interpreting channels.
93 Titles Provide Context
Titles and headings are critical. They provide context and cue your brain and memory for what comes after. Whether or not something is well written or poorly written, titles activate the appropriate schema (see the post on schema for more information).
94 Repetition Changes Your Brain
When two neurons are activated, the connections between them are strengthened. If you repeat the information enough times, the neurons form a “firing trace”. Once the trace is formed, then just starting the sequence triggers the rest of the items, and allows you to retrieve the memory. This is why you need to hear information over and over in order for it to “stick”.
95 People Decide Who And What Is Alive By The Eyes
Her research found that there is a spot, about 75% down the continuum, where people say they are not people/alive anymore. She also found that people primarily use the eyes to decide if a picture is human and alive.
96 Past Experience And Expectations Determine Where People Look
People tend to ignore the edges of screens. Because people have gotten used to the idea that there are things on computer screens that are not as relevant to the task at hand, such as logos, blank space, and navigation bars, they tend to move towards the center of the screen and avoid the edges. After the first look at a screen people then move in whatever is their normal reading pattern, in other words left to right/top to bottom in cultures that read that way.
97 People Filter Information
Several crew members were convinced from the start that it was a hostile military plane, and from that point on they filtered all the information coming in. The crew had rehearsed the a training scenario many times on what to do when there is a hostile military plane in their air space. They ignored evidence that it was, in fact, a commercial plane, paid attention only to the information that led them to think it was a hostile military craft, and then proceeded to carry out the training scenario. All leading them to an incorrect resolution.
98 Attention Is Selective
You are walking down a path in the woods, thinking about an upcoming business trip you are taking, and you see a snake on the ground. You freeze and jump backwards. Your heart starts racing. You are ready to run away. But wait, it’s not a snake. It’s just a stick. You calm down and keep walking on the path. You noticed the stick, and even responded to it, in a largely unconscious way.
99 Well Practiced Skills Do Not Require Conscious Attention
The Suzuki method of music instruction (and perhaps other methods too, it’s the only one I’m really familiar with) requires students to intensely practice particular skills on their instrument. In a Suzuki recital students usually do not have music in front of them. All the pieces (and quite complicated pieces) are memorized. This requires that particular passages and songs be practiced over and over. A term that is used in music instruction is “muscle memory”. The piece is practiced so often, that the muscles remember how to play it on its own, without thinking involved.
100 Sustained Attention Lasts 10 Minutes
If the topic is of interest to you, and the person is a good presenter, the maximum you can focus on the presentation is about 7-10 minutes. And if you are not interested in the topic and/or the presenter is particularly boring, then you’ll lose interest much faster. For most people performing most tasks, they can hold attention for 7 to 10 minutes, and then the attention will start to wane.