Research: the psychology of information processing

Persuasion: How does our brain allow itself to be persuaded?

This chart shows different types of behavior change. I may think of these as I choose how a display may be configured. Does the person want to know when they’ve done something good overt time or just once? Should it portray positive or negative reinforcement? Should they be able to choose which? My primary goal is not to change behavior, but to acknowledge actions that may lead to behavior change.

Persuasive Tech Lab @ Stanford

The Fogg Behavior Model shows that three elements must converge at the same moment for a behavior to occur: Motivation, Ability, and Trigger. When a behavior does not occur, at least one of those three elements is missing.

This article suggests putting “Hot Triggers” in the path of motivated people.

So, if I’m motivated to do something, can acknowledging it by glancing at a display be my trigger? — For those who are skeptical that a display with less than satisfactory results will be depressing rather than motivating– If a person configures a display to show the truth about say, their exercise habits, they are motivated to acknowledge that fact and will hopefully translate a less than satisfactory display as encouragement to step up their game and improve. 

How can a display keep you motivated? Help you celebrate success? Help you understand where to improve?

Perception: How do we perceive our surroundings?


This article has many great examples of how our perception of shapes works, moving from gestalt principles to figure ground relationships.

Law of Noticeable Differences

Information Visualization

How can I design for quick understanding without sacrificing beauty? How can I make sure that a change is noticeable enough to influence understanding?

Cognition: By what process do we become aware of the data we receive?

From The Functional Art: “The brain doesn’t just process information that comes though the eyes. It also creates mental visual images that allow us to reason and plan actions that facilitate survival.”

On memory: “With visual stimuli, the human mind holds imagery in a type of sensory memory know as iconic memory. In milliseconds, that info is transferred.”

How will the user visualize the relationship between the visualization and the actions they took to create that data?

Action: What triggers us to act?

Fitness Trackers & Psychology – Wired

““There’s incredible power in knowing how you’re doing,” Stefan Olander, v.p. of digital sport at Nike, said in a discussion at South by Southwest. “It’s inherently, incredibly motivational.”

That motivation is amplified by the ability to broadcast your results via social media. Posting your stats to Facebook and Twitter lets you do more than boast. It allows others to encourage you or even join you in working toward similar goals like running a marathon. You’re part of a community, which makes it that much harder to slack off.

…The wristband’s system of NikeFuel points — which essentially assign a “score” based upon your daily activity — motivated her to find any excuse to keep moving.

…“The points don’t motivate me to get better at something — they just motivate me to not stand around or sit around so much,” she said. “It disrupts your least active moments and makes you find ways to sneak in more activity.””

Could there be a benefit in displaying the more personal data abstractly to your close family? Could their motivation close to home do the same thing for encouraging your behavior? If your spouse can also see your display, are you more likely to keep it in the clear?

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