Mental Notes cards by Stephen P. Anderson

Last week I received the pack of Mental Notes cards that I ordered for our graduate studio. The cards, designed by Stephen P. Anderson, are lovely—they come beautifully packaged in an embossed box, they’re nicely designed, and each card features a whimsical illustration by Kevin Cornell. But even better, I think they will prove to be useful. Each of the 50 cards represents an insight from psychology that can be applied to interactive design (see example card below).

Two sample cards, copyright Stephen P. Anderson

I’m thrilled that these cards so nicely tie together what I’ve learned in my readings from cognitive psychology and my Behavioral Decision Making class. For example, I’ve been struggling all semester to apply the theoretical principles I’ve learned in Behavioral Decision Making to my thesis project. The application ideas on the Mental Notes cards pose simple questions that I think will be quite helpful in bridging the gaps between theory and practice.

I’ve been going through the cards and have picked out some that I could using to come up with prototypes for my thesis project.

Framing (the way in which issue and data are stated can alter our judgment and affect decisions)

How can I frame eco-friendly choices—like reusable bottles—in a way that makes the choices seem most desirable and convenient?

Curiosity (When teased with a small bit of interesting information, people will want to know more)

How could my final design help people become curious and want to find out more? A similar principle is “surprise”—can I make new information surprising, but in a good way?

Need for certainty (we crave certainty and are more likely to take action if specific information is available)

I think I’ve been planning on utilizing this principle all along—I am already committed to providing my audience with specific information and steps they can take to make things better.

Trigger (we need small nudges placed on regular paths to remind and motivate us to take action)

This is a principle that has come up before (see B.J. Fogg’s Behavior Model). How can I use a trigger in my final product?

Feedback Loops (we are engaged by situations in which we see our actions modify subsequent results)

Would it be possible to design a system that shows users how much plastic / oil / energy they’re saving by not drinking bottled water?

Positive mimicry (we learn by modeling our behavior after others)

In the interviews I’m currently conducting, I’ve tried to employ positive mimicry by showing the participants text and images that portray another person who has chosen to stop drinking bottled water.

Is hearing or seeing another person’s reasons for making an eco-friendly choice compelling enough to create behavior change?

Commitment and consistency (we desire to act in a manner consistent with our stated beliefs and prior actions)

This has to do with avoiding cognitive dissonance, something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

Should I ask people to commit to going without bottled water for a certain amount of time? Is there a more unusual or creative application?

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