The psychology of everyday interactions

The psychology of everyday interactions

In 1988 Norman’s published “The Psychology of Everyday Things”, which became a seminal work, commonly considered the base for the developing of User Centered Design (UCD). The main goal of UCD was to develop “usable” products, where usability is typically defined as the extent to which a product can be used by users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction. However, in doing this UCD left out some important aspects of human behaviour, such as emotions, instinct, social bias and aesthetics. Soon designers and researchers became aware that is also – and sometimes exclusively – on these bases that people chose their devices and objects. The concept of usability was thus slightly replaced by the more general concept of User Experience (UX), referring to a holistic perspective: traditional quality models are enriched of concepts not related to product functionality, as enjoyment, engagement, pleasure (hedonic value) or game/fun (playful value). The big companies like Apple, Amazon and Google have emphasized the role of the UX, so that today there are over 150,000 open positions for UX designer. However, such a general concept is difficult to be studied (and measured) in a controlled way. In experimental psychology each aspect of the UX (e.g. visual aesthetics, the connection between perception and emotions, the effect of prior experience on actual performance) has been traditionally addressed by different fragmented areas – as attention, memory, perception and action etc. This, together with the fact that experimental paradigms are not appealing for the industrial markets (since they requires long time to be performed), makes extremely difficult to perform experimental researches with private companies, in order to give them practical advices on how to develop products with a good impact not only on customers UX but also on the society in general.  Nevertheless, it is possible to integrate the experimental rigor with industrial needs to keep the cost low and to have faster results. To this end, some good tools developed within the stream of social and experimental psychology are for example the Implicit Association Test and eye-tracking measures. I will present a new approach to develop a custom-made protocol for industries to easily (and objectively) measure UX, which include multidisciplinary and applied methods. This approach allows taking into account both the everyday environment (increasing the ecological validity) and more rigorous empirical evidence. In this framework I will present some studies we conducted to outline difficulties and strengths of the human interactions.

Rossana Actis-Grosso, University of Milano-Bicocca
Hosted by
School of Psychology
William Guild Building

Dr Chu or Ms Porter (01224 272227)