dConstruct 2008: part five

(This is turning into a marathon: parts one, two, three and four precede this one. I can’t guarantee your sanity should you choose to read that lot.)

Joshua Porter: Leveraging Cognitive Bias in Social Design

bq. “Rationality be damned…”

We (humans) work on limited information to make a decision - the Bandwagon Effect.

h4. Heuristics

Heuristics are a shortcut to making a decision. They’re useful (else we would likely never make a decision, make a decision very, very slowly and/or go insane in the process) but they are subject to cognitive bias_Bias.

h4. Design-related biases

  • Including Not Invented Here_Invented_Here (which I loathe; hey - I have a bias against it!)

h4. Representation bias

  • leveraged by Freshbooks to go after the type of audience they want
  • Yelp.com’s reviewer of the day
    ** these are power users that are showcased as being representative of the wider community, even though they’re not

h4. Loss aversion

More people would take a bet on a 50% chance of a win than a 50% chance of loss, even though the result is the same!

Losses loom larger than gains [as illustrated by the LHC switch-on this week, and the focus on the infinitesimally small chance of earth-swallowing black holes]. For instance, here is OpenID described in terms of gains and losses:

bq. “Log in anywhere with your domain!” - gains

bq. “Don’t forget another password!” - losses

Any feature described in terms of future savings is probably better described in terms of an immediate loss.

h4. Ownership bias

People value things more when they have a sense of ownership, and this is reflected in the names of many online services: [You]tube, [My]Space, [my]hotel. Also, Flickr is littered with “you” descriptions.

This ownership bias is a factor in the 9x effect (mentioned during Joshua’s workshop), where sign-up is actually nine times harder than we think.

On Slide.com, sign-up is deferred until later; the user gets to make something first, creating a sense of ownership (and the need to avoid losing that which they’ve created - more loss aversion).

More to come. Yes, really.