Chapter 14 – Applied Cognitive Psychology
- Broadbent (1980)
o When 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)
o Cognitive 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)
o There 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.
o The 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
o Asked participants to postpone doing one task until they had finished another
o Found 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.
o These errors due to faulty formulation of intentions fall into two subclasses.
a) Mode errors
o Occurs 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
o We do not have a sufficiently detailed understanding of our situation.
2) Due to faulty activation of a schema
o Capture errors
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.
o Faulty 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.
o Anticipation errors
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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o Prediction 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
o One 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.
o Ergonomists 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.
- User friendly
o The 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”
o Child-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.
o Winograd 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.
o The 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.
o Most 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
o It 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)
o Reported 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?
o One 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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o The other view is that it may be the case that other keyboards are not actually easier to use.
- Computer number pad and phone number pad do not appear to interfere with the other, in that people do not
make mistakes entering numbers on a computer by unthinkingly using the telephone pattern.
o Different contexts may allow for different conditions.
- Because the interface is so difficult to use for typing text, text messages are often written in a special code
o The tendency to use textish increases with the intimacy of the relationship between sender and receiver.
Textish resembles inner speech.
The less the social distance between oneself and another, he more communication will
approximate speech for oneself.
- One of the advantages of textish is that is makes communication more private.
- The popularity of text messaging illustrates the fact that if a device can satisfy a need, then people wll use it,
not matter how labour-intensive it is.
- Modifications in a device to make it more user friendly are likely to come about only after the device has
demonstrated its utility.
- Fitt’s law specifies the difficulty of moving a stylus to a target.
o Obviously, this difficulty will vary as the distance to the target varies.
The farther the stylus has to be moved, the more difficult the task.
It will also vary as the size of the target varies.
The narrower the target, the more difficult it will be to hit it.
o ID = f (D/W)
ID index of difficulty
D Target distance
W Width of the target
- Fitt’s law leads to two principles.
1) The more frequently a target is used, the closer it should be to the pointer.
2) If the user must make the pointer travel a longer distance, then the target should be made as large as
- The affordances of an object refers to its possible functions.
- The set of possible actions is called the affordances of the object.
- An affordance is not a property, but it is a relationship that holds between the object and the organism that is
acting on the object.
- An important aspect of designing an object is to try to create an object that will afford those actions that are
appropriate, and not afford those actions that are inappropriate.
- Green and Payne (1982) reviewed some of the properties that such texts should have.
o Text should be organized in a way that reflects the actions the user must perform.
This is not a serious problem as long as the operations to be performed follow one another in a
- Instructions for the use of an object requiring concurrent processing present special problems.
o Concurrent process
Many different processes going on at the same time, but that terminate at different times.
- As Sloboda (1981) noted, the cues to action are directly perceptible; the notation affords the proper action.
- Pictures can represent concurrent information successfully.
o The relations between these simultaneously available parts can convey information to the user about
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- Statistical graphics is concerned with presenting data in a visual form that is not only readily understood ut
that also enables the user to draw the correct inferences.
- Gigerenzer and Edwards (2005) point out that presenting data in the form of frequencies is a simple and
effective mind tool to reduce the confusion resulting from presenting data in other ways.
- Population impact number
o The number of people n the population among whom one event will be prevented by an intervention.
- Gigerenzer and Edwards claimed that people are good intuitive statisticians if the data are presented in a
way that is natural for them.
o The moral of the story is that frequencies are the best way in which to present data for statistically naïve
- Sevigny et al., found that 39% of gambling sites had an inflated payout rates during the demo period.
Searching for Information
- Informavore is a species that hungers for information in order to gather it and store it as a means for