Tag: behaviour

Product Design should factor Human Forgetfulness

Product design should factor for human forgetfulness where possible.

This is a picture of the detergent tray from a leading brand, top-loading washing machine.

The hole in the tray is where detergent, mixed with water, drips into the drum during a wash cycle.

However, when the tray is opened to fill detergent, you notice it slopes downward.

This is understandable from a manufacturer’s perspective, the reason for the downward slope of the open tray intended to prevent any liquid or diluted detergent dripping into the drum before the cycle has begun.

However, from the user’s perspective, it also means that if a user forgets to shut the tray, it will fill with water, but mostly likely won’t drip through the outlet, as you can see in this case where, shortly after starting the cycle, it was realized and shut.

And forgetting to close the tray can be a very likely possibility in the hurried world we live in. It would involve an extra wash cycle after one realizes. And more water wasted, to get the job done.

A less desirable workaround solution could involve a sensor check that alerts the user of an open tray.
A intuitive workaround could be where the tray tilts forward (instead of backward), and the outlet is placed on the lower end, and only opens during a cycle and not before. So as not to inconvenience the user.

After all, aren’t machines supposed to be designed to make human lives more efficient?

#product #design #behaviour

An Indian Survivorship Bias Example

Many of you must have seen that drawing of a World War II plane with red dots on it.

It explains Survivorship bias, a bias that statistician Abraham Wald figured out.

Pic: source

Simply put, survivor bias is our tendency to view a situation or pattern as a comprehensive representative sample, often without considering what might be missing from that picture.

For instance, the WWII plane with red dots was a study Wald and his team carried out to determine which parts of returning Allied jets were hit the most by enemy gunfire, so as to reinforce those parts and make them stronger.

It was then that Wald realized that those parts were actually stronger, as all those jets had made it back to base safely. So instead, they focused on reinforcing the other parts, since clearly jets hit on other weaker sections never survived to tell their side of the story.

In India, there has been a belief among many of the older folk that children or people with big/long ears live a longer life, compared to those with smaller ears.

Interestingly, while most of our body shrinks with age, our nose, earlobes and ear muscles keep growing. Which means our elders had the concept backwards.

It was not that those born with bigger ears lived longer. But rather that those who lived longer, had ears that simply had a longer time to keep growing, and are therefore, relatively bigger in size.

#behaviour #behavior #bias #behaviouralscience #behavioralscience

 

How About a Mass Behavioural Improvement before India’s 100th Independence Day

 


The beautiful tri-colour waving at Connaught Place, Central Park, Delhi.

It’s 75 years since India got Independence!
A proud milestone for all of us Indians. Also one to reflect on and carefully choose the path forward.

I happened to read a 75th Independence Day post on Instagram a short while ago, that took a crude jab at the Brits.
What I found amusing is I believe it captures a common trait among many of us Indians.

This is obviously not a political post. It is a behavioural one though.

It has been 75 years!
Our media never misses an opportunity to find Indian connections to the Royal family..
There’s a massive Indian population living in the UK..
We dream of holidaying in the UK..
We dream of owning cars and motorbikes from the UK region..

..but still have this unaddressed anger of sorts. I mean come on, it has been 75 years ffs!

Thing is, I have experienced this type of misplaced emotion myself as well.
As a 7-8 year old, one of the early deaths of a loved one was that of my grandfather. He had already suffered a stroke, and subsequently died of a heart attack.

I remember struggling to come to terms with it, and told a cousin that I wish a person had caused it, so that perhaps I could find a rational channel for my anger and more importantly my sadness.

So I wonder, is it something broken in our education system, or in how we bring up our children, not discussing or not knowing how to discuss tough or uncomfortable topics, that causes us to grow up to become anger-filled, cynical adults who, as Steve Buscemi (Garland Greene in Con Air) describes someone saying,
“He’s a font of misplaced rage.
Name your cliche. Mother held him too much, or not enough.
Last picked at kick ball, late-night sneaky uncle. Whatever.
Now he’s so angry, moments of levity actually cause him pain.”

And this is not just the case with India. Other countries around the world, some in Europe and South America too, display a similar general trend of latent anger or cynicism amongst its people.

Better understanding of this behavioural pattern might help us address it, so we can reach our true potential, as individuals, and as a country. Let us improve multi-fold by our 100th Independence Day.

 

 

 

 

A Forward: What is Butt Dust?

Image: link

I had shared this forward on social media a few years ago, and it popped back up today.

Apart from the innocence, simplicity and being purely hilarious, it is a nice example of the recognition stage of ’empathy’, a term we behaviour and design thinking folk throw around a lot.

Situations we accept in a particular context without a thought, look so different from a child’s perspective.

It helps serve as a reminder that our worldview is not everyone’s worldview.

Enjoy this one:

??
What, you ask, is ‘Butt dust’? Read on and you’ll discover the joy in it! These have to be original and genuine. No adult is, this creative!

JACK (age 3)
was watching his Mom breast-feeding his new baby sister… After a while he asked: ‘Mom why have you got two? Is one for hot and one for cold milk? ‘

MELANIE (age 5)
asked her Granny how old she was… Granny replied she was so old she didn’t remember any more. Melanie said, ‘If you don’t remember you must look in the back of your panties. Mine say five to six.’

STEVEN (age 3)
hugged and kissed his Mom good night. ‘I love you so much that when you die I’m going to bury you outside my bedroom window.’

BRITTANY (age 4)
had an ear ache and wanted a pain killer. She tried in vain to take the lid off the bottle. Seeing her frustration, her Mom explained it was a child-proof cap and she’d have to open it for her. Eyes wide with wonder, the little girl asked: ‘How does it know it’s me?’

SUSAN (age 4)
was drinking juice when she got the hiccups. ‘Please don’t give me this juice again,’ she said, ‘It makes my teeth cough..’

DJ (age 4)
stepped onto the bathroom scale and asked: ‘How much do I cost?’

CLINTON (age 5) was in his bedroom looking worried.
When his Mom asked what was troubling him, he replied, ‘I don’t know what’ll happen with this bed when I get married. How will my wife fit in it?’

MARC (age 4)
was engrossed in a young couple that were hugging and kissing in a restaurant. Without taking his eyes off them, he asked his dad: ‘Why is he whispering in her mouth?’

TAMMY(age 4) was with her mother when they met an elderly, rather wrinkled woman her Mom knew. Tammy looked at her for a while and then asked, ‘Why doesn’t your skin fit your face?’

JAMES (age 4) was listening to a Bible story.
His dad read: ‘The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city but his wife looked back and was turned to salt.’ Concerned, James asked: ‘What happened to the flea?’

The Sunday Sermon this Mom will never forget:
‘Dear Lord,’ the minister began, with arms extended toward heaven and a rapturous look on his upturned face. ‘Without you, we are but dust…’ He would have continued but at that moment my very obedient daughter who was listening, leaned over to me and asked quite audibly in her shrill little four year old girl voice,
‘Mom, what is butt dust?’

Exploitative Businesses & Divine (and Tech) Interventions

When I wrote ‘Design the Future’ about Design Thinking, it had a brief overview of the behavioural aspects of innovation – from an innovator’s and user’s perspective.
 
There was a mention of nudges (not sure I used the term though).
I have been of the (possibly obvious) view that, as companies get increasingly sneaky, especially when selling ill-health or stuff we don’t necessarily need, that despite how creative their marketing gets, customers too keep pace by becoming resistant to the nudges.
 
I also think the Ben Franklin Effect probably wears off, and that people aren’t exactly suckers to keep giving. Of course, it varies for people, their preferences, value trade-off, etc.
 
Unless business are sincerely trying to benefit or create a good habit in customers, I’ve personally never been a fan of exploitative nudges. Which is why, while some soft drink or fast food ads and initiatives are creative and impressive, you know it isn’t promoting something great in customers.
 
Two recent events seemed to be a sort of divine intervention to nudges and business practices that aren’t exactly in the best interest of customers.
 
First, Cristiano Ronaldo removing Coca-Cola bottles during a press conference at the Euros coinciding with a $4bn fall in the company’s share price. Nothing against the company in particular, but not a fan of global giants that proudly continue to promote ill-health.
 
The Second, email marketing. While useful to businesses including mine to spread the word, it also has become increasingly sneaky in that they closely track numerous user interactions. I recently got an email about an offer. Opened the email because the subject line was interesting, but immediately realized I didn’t need it. Instantly, the next mail appears, asking if there was something missing in the offer (previous mail). That was pushing it.
 
As per developments discussed at Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that ended about a week ago, Apple will be putting more limitations on email marketing and in-app advertising. They’ll likely be preventing marketers from knowing when users have accessed their emails, among other features.
 
During a recent project with a company trying to create a positive habit in customers, the analytics team had a list of around 140 data points/actions on the app to track. I found some more to take the tally to 200. While the overarching service is beneficial to customers, I wasn’t overly proud of my contribution and faced the moral dilemma of whether we should track so much, or simply create a more effective user experience that might achieve the dual objective: one for the customer and one for the company.
 
Interesting how some businesses offer invasive tech to businesses, and other businesses offer defense against such tech in the form of new features on their products.
 
 

Behavioural Law

Classic economics started off factoring psychology and behavioural trends and shortcomings (biases) into economic understanding. However, through the ages, economic concepts and policies were built on the assumption that humans are rational beings. This was like putting a blanket over our susceptibility to biases and our irrational decision-making tendencies.

It took the path-breaking decades of work by 2002 Nobel Laureate (Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences) Daniel Kahneman, Amos Tversky and a few others, to identify and document common human mistakes that spring from our heuristics and biases. This led to the importance of the field of behavioural economics which should ideally replace all economic skillsets.

Going by that logic, I did a cursory check on the LLB syllabus in India and that at Harvard Law School. I also came across research papers and articles around behavioural law at institutes like Yale, Harvard, Cambridge. However, a generic search for Indian LLB syllabus and the Harvard Law curriculum did not show up any subject dedicated to psychology, behaviour, or behavioural law. Stanford mentioned it. However Yale Law did have a fair bit of behaviour covered.

Harvard Law curriculum

While the Harvard program had some 55o study modules, and while they certainly might be including aspects of behavioural law, the subjects list did not include anything related to it or behaviour, despite the importance one might associate with it.

One would imagine that given all the business and personal collaborations and disputes that occur across the world, institutes should have at least by now made human behaviour, behavioural economics and psychology a key part of learning.

You might wonder what it might include? While I wouldn’t exactly know how, I do know that legal professionals are well trained in attack and defense, both in documentation and in fighting cases. And they are adept at understanding the opposition for defense or attack; and identifying potential risk scenarios well into the future. However, armed with behavioural knowledge, they might be able to influence collaborations and solve disputes amicably simply with a better understanding of behaviour and therefore a better choice of words and strategy perhaps. One that could benefit all related parties themselves fairly in the short term, but also steadily influence a more collaborative human race in the longer term.

Many of us have seen those videos of Providence, Rhode Island’s chief municipal judge, Francesco “Frank” Caprio, who metes out ‘human’ and ‘humane’ justice. Someone receiving a judgement from him, or someone simply being spectator to his judgement might have a very different view of humankind. One that is compassionate and optimistic. In a world itching to accuse and punish, imagine the mindset change an entire global legal fraternity might bring about, if they had the superior maturity of Judge Frank Caprio.

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