Category Archives: Psychology

Awarding the Right Behaviors in Digital Design

Digital badges to encourage behavior are a fine idea in concept but riddled with issues in practice. I talked about badges at UXPA International last week (slides here), including a whole host of reasons why they go awry. One of the biggest ones, in my opinion, is that designers may choose to award digital badges for behaviors that aren’t really critical ones for obtaining meaningful outcomes. Instead, they reward behaviors that are easy to measure (like clicks or check-ins). The result is a reward system that doesn’t actually lead to results. Continue reading Awarding the Right Behaviors in Digital Design

The Bystander Effect, Cognitive Biases, and Standing Up for Good

What happened last week in Portland was shocking. After a man on the light-rail train began yelling what has been described as “hate speech” at two teenage girls, he stabbed three men who tried to intervene and help. Two of them, Ricky Best and Taliesin Namkai-Meche, died. A third, Micah Fletcher, was critically injured. As the world learns what happened, one line of comment I’ve seen is along the lines of: This is why you don’t step in to help. Continue reading The Bystander Effect, Cognitive Biases, and Standing Up for Good

Advice for Field Research From Stephen Colbert

OK, so maybe Stephen Colbert wrote this list of tips for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart interviewers working on field pieces and not people like me who are doing field research for less entertaining purposes. No big deal. I read this list of advice in The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History and knew it was just as useful for my type of research as it is for theirs. This is great advice for developing a rapport with someone, getting good information, and bringing a conversation back to a point. So without further ado: Continue reading Advice for Field Research From Stephen Colbert

Making Corporate Values Visible: Livestrong

It may seem like a minor thing, but visual displays of corporate values can help employees to internalize those ideals as they go about their work. I’m very interested in the cultural artifacts that make corporate values apparent in the physical workspace–much as Johnson & Johnson does with the display of its Credo in its offices around the world. While having highly visible values doesn’t guarantee that employees live into them, it does help to socialize those values and ensure a base level of familiarity.  And when everyday behaviors do align with the physical artifacts that are the topmost level of organizational culture, that’s when the magic happens. Continue reading Making Corporate Values Visible: Livestrong

Engagement Powers the Habit Cycle

At this week’s Habit Summit in San Francisco, I talked about the role of engagement in creating new habits. I called my talk “Highway to the Habit Zone” not just to reference Kenny Loggins,  but to emphasize that if you don’t engage people in an experience, they won’t experience enough repeated exposure to the cue-response-reward cycle to truly develop a habit. Continue reading Engagement Powers the Habit Cycle

Want a Clean Park? Think Ability Support

As someone whose primary mode of transportation is on foot, I’m probably more annoyed than most by people who don’t clean up after their dogs. A day stepping in dog poop is pretty much a day ruined. That said, I get why it happens sometimes. A lot of areas don’t have convenient trash cans, and people may not have plastic bags to pick up the poop. Shit happens. Yes, that pun was 100% intended. Continue reading Want a Clean Park? Think Ability Support

Why Great Design Will Never Be 100% Effective

No matter how well-designed, well-researched, and well-implemented any given product or experience is, it will never work for 100% of people. This is true for health interventions, consumer products, financial services, you name it. And while it sounds pessimistic to say that, the reason why is both obvious and (at least to me) interesting: Everybody is different. Continue reading Why Great Design Will Never Be 100% Effective

Making Choices Meaningful: At the Intersection of Competence and Autonomy

What constitutes a meaningful choice for one person may not be meaningful to another. When I presented with Raphaela O’Day at SXSW a few weeks ago, we talked a lot about packaging decisions in a way that made sense to the person making them. This is where competence and autonomy intersect; a choice can’t be meaningful if a person doesn’t have the knowledge or expertise to make it well. Continue reading Making Choices Meaningful: At the Intersection of Competence and Autonomy

What’s Different About Designing For Health?

A question I’ve been thinking about more recently is, what makes health behavior change so special? And surprisingly enough for someone who’s spent over a decade focusing on health behavior change, I think the answer is: It’s not. The more I explore other behavior change challenges, the more I see that designing for health isn’t  really different from other types of behavior change interventions. Continue reading What’s Different About Designing For Health?

Moral Issues in Designing for Behavior Change

The big thing on my mind right now is preparing for my presentation at SXSW next Saturday. My J&J colleague and pal Raphaela O’Day and I are going to be discussing “Moral Issues in Designing for Behavior Change,” and how we grapple with them as psychologists who design and create interventions to improve health and healthcare.
Continue reading Moral Issues in Designing for Behavior Change