PSYC 213 Chapter Notes - Chapter 14: Cognitive Ergonomics, User Interface, Qwerty
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Chapter 14 – Applied Cognitive Psychology
oWhen psychologists examine applied settings, such as the workplace, they quickly discover important
aspects of behaviour that may be overlooked in other forms of investigation.
Working in applied settings may lead not only to the solution of practical problems, but also may
provide information about basic psychological processes not obtainable in any other way.
-Problem-centered versus method-centred – Maslow (1946)
oCognitive psychology can be so concerned with doing methodologically correct studies that it loses sight
of the practical problems that need to be addressed.
A problem-centered cognitive psychology runs the risk of methodological sloppiness.
Applied cognitive psychology requires a delicate balance between being problem0centred and
-One of the central concerns of applied cognitive psychology always has been the discovery of ways to
reduce the tendency we all have to make errors in a variety of situations.
-Activation-trigger-schema theory – Norman (1981)
oThere can be several different schemas for different kinds of action, and more than one schema can be
activated at any one time.
Schemas may be inappropriately activated, resulting in attentional errors.
oThe habitual sequence of action continues to operate without much attention, and the newer action
sequence never gets activated.
Oops, I did it again effect – Betsch et al., (2004)
-Eistein et al., (2003) Tested the fragility of intentions
oAsked participants to postpone doing one task until they had finished another
oFound that participants were very poor at remembering to do the postponed task, and concluded that
“when busily engaged in activities, it is difficult for the cognitive system to maintain delayed intentions
in focal awareness even for 5seconds.”
-Possible sources for different kinds of errors
1) Lapse that occurs because we have inadequately formulated what it is we actually want to do.
oThese errors due to faulty formulation of intentions fall into two subclasses.
a) Mode errors
oOccurs when we carry out an action that would be fine for one situation (mode), but not for the situation
in which we happen to find ourselves.
b) Description errors
oWe do not have a sufficiently detailed understanding of our situation.
2) Due to faulty activation of a schema
Result when a familiar schema captures behaviour in the place of an unfamiliar one.
Particularly when you are trying to do something instead of an overlearned sequence, it is
likely that the overlearned sequence will run itself off instead.
oFaulty activation also reveals itself in errors due to loss of activation of the appropriate schema.
3) The proper schema has been activated, but it is triggered inappropriately.
A response may occur earlier in a sequence than it should if it is only being elicited by the
immediately preceding stimulus.
You have wasted two terms You have tasted two worms.
-Norman noted that the existence of errors such as these points out the importance of monitoring one’s own
Consider this (Box 14.1)
-Dawes argued that there is an asymmetry between understanding and prediction.
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Chapter 14 – Applied Cognitive Psychology
oPrediction does not necessarily follow from understanding.
One can understand something extremely well and yet not be able to predict its future occurrence.
Conversely, one can predict something reasonably well without having a very good understanding
of why the prediction works.
- Cleopatra’s nose problem
oOne can invent any number of hypothetical events that might have changed the course of history without
any certainty of being able to predict any future occurrences.
-Ergonomics is the study of people in relation to their working environment.
oErgonomists help to design objects and machines so that people can interact with them not only
efficiently but also with the maximum possible amount of satisfaction.
oThe concept has been more widely applied to describe a desirable feature of virtually any interaction
between a person and any device.
It “helps a person to perform a task in a natural way, which is easy to understand and use”
oChild-proof medicine bottle
The User Interface
-A work situation can be analyzed in terms of three different interfaces.
1) Organization interface concerns the relation between the organization and the types of tasks the organization
2) Task interface refers to the relation between a job and the devices required to perform the job.
oWinograd and Flores (1986) showed that such decisions are made without anyone being sufficiently
clear about precisely what problems the introduction of new technology is meant to solve.
oThe definition of the task interface may be a process that evolves over a long period of suing the system,
rather than being anything that can be precisely stated at the outset.
3) User interface refers to the relationship between the person and the device being used to perform a task.
oMost applicable for cognitive psychology
-Cognitive ergonomics refers to the combination of cognitive psychology and ergonomics used to
understand the user interface.
-It is desirable for the user interface to be designed to make use of the user’s existing knowledge, in order to
minimize the amount of learning required to interact with the computer. (Maas, 1983)
-Alphabetical arrangement of keys allowed the operator to do the task too efficiently for the state of the
oIt was necessary to slow the typist down because the machine jammed if the operator typed too fast.
QWERTY arrangement was invented to replace alphabetical design.
-Norman & Fisher (1982)
oReported that typing speed on the alphabetical keyboard was not as good as typing speed on the
Norman (2002) has explained results like these in terms of the ease with which the operator can use
the knowledge he or she brings to the situation.
Many people have at least casual experience with the QWERTY keyboard, and that knowledge
may be quite useful.
Skilled typists will not be able to transfer what they have learned to the alphabetical keyboard.
Once entrenched, difficult to change it.
-Why the QWERTY keyboard is persisting?
oOne view holds that the QWERTY keyboard is an example of the way in which an accidental series of
events may lock technology into a particular irreversible path.
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