Psychology and design go hand in hand… or at least they should. Let me leave you with that thought, whilst I introduce the idea of behaviourism to you:
The primary concern of behaviourism is ‘observable behaviour’. No matter how complex a behaviour is perceived to be, it can be reduced to simple response features (stimuli) and environmental influences. Behaviourism has contributed significantly to a number of psychological areas, including: language development, and moral development. It seeks elegant explanations of human behaviour from a scientific standpoint — making it the perfect design aid. The ability to clearly define behaviour and to measure changes in behaviour is an obvious boon to designers.
“Good product designers are already good Behavioural Psychologists”
Improving design research
Everyday design research is empirical and anecdotal at best… it has its place, but behaviourism takes a more rigorous, scientific approach, and offers more potential reward. User research could be improved, and made more efficient and unbiased. Those intuitions that we often take for granted could be sharpened, allowing us to correctly anticipate user behaviours from the outset of the design process. By looking inward – stopping briefly – and asking why you behave as you do in your design interactions, we can help designers (including ourselves) to make better design decisions.
Making better design decisions
Good product designers are already good Behavioural Psychologists; being the truly remarkable creatives that they are, most of the time, they don’t even realise it. Designers make more decisions per day than your average Joe. This is mainly due to the fact that design problems rarely have one big solution — they generally require layers of small solutions. As you settle into the design groove, the decisions that are made are often intuitive, relying on experiences of similar design problems — but how effective is this really? Maybe critical design decisions are being influenced by the many biases we are prone to? By stepping away from ourselves, and examining what we are doing and why, we could train ourselves to make better design decisions.
Over a series of blogs we aim to examine this hypothesis – and will put forward potential strategies designed to reap the benefits of behaviourism’s inclusion in the design process.