Deep Dive into Cognitive Biases

(offered in Q1, 2017/18)

People (users and designers) do not act like logic machines, but they often exhibit biases: inclinations or prejudices towards particular ways of thinking or doing. In this mode, subtleties in posing a question, formulating a decision, or displaying a choice can have large effects on what people actually do.

While such biases may work against designers’ intentions, producing surprises and sometimes frustrations, they can also work in beneficial ways. For example: in online forms for soliciting organ donors, Germans had to click a box to become a donor, while Austrians had to click to *not* be a donor. As a result, Germany had 12% donors, but Austria had 99%! So what some may treat as “cognitive defects”, others may find “valuable heuristics”.

In this course we will dive into the literature, gather and discuss examples, and formulate together tips and guidelines for designers to be ‘wary of biases’ in the interfaces they design. We will dive into work that explores ‘cognitive styles’, decision making, and ‘biases’, including Gladwell’s “Blink” (2007), Thaler & Sunstein’s “Nudge” (2008), Kahneman’s “Thinking fast and slow” (2011), and Klein’s “Seeing what others don’t” (2013).

The course will be led by prof. Pieter Jan Stappers (TU Delft) in collaboration with visiting researcher prof. Quan Zhou (Metropolitan State University, Minnesota). The course is connected to the research project ‘MyFutures,’ which aims to help people discuss and make plans for their personal futures (see more on the project here).

Course Guide can be dowloaded here.