Design as Experience Placebo

Randy Dotinga’s Wired.com article, Why Sugar Pills Cure Some Ills, made me wonder if design could be used as an experience placebo?

That is, could a person’s perception that a product, service, object or system has been “designed” have a positive affect on the person’s experience with the product, service, object or system?

This also brings up the question of whether or not design processes will become part of a product’s marketing collateral? Will certain design methodologies or even user-centered (or any other philosophical approaches to) design ever become mainstream enough to be advertised?

Personal shout-out: David Spiegel, who is quoted in the article, runs the Stanford Emotional Coding Lab, at which I volunteer occasionally.

Daniel Kahneman – Intuition: Between Perception and Reasoning

Several weeks ago, I saw Daniel Kahneman speak at Stanford. Daniel Kahneman won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics, and is currently the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology at Princeton University.

He gave a fascinating talk entitled, “Intuition: Between Perception and Reasoning.” Here are some of my notes from the talk:

A thought I had during the talk: Intuitive interfaces are those that can be used without computation (time to think).

If you keep the mind busy with cognitive tasks (what Kahneman calls System 2 tasks), you can’t simultaneously evaluate your experience.

One rather interesting thing Kahneman suggested was that episodes are recalled (experienced) as an average of the most predominant emotion, not a sum of all emotions. For example, he described a study where patients rated their experience while undergoing a colonoscopy (Redelmeiner and Kahneman, 1996). The results suggested that the episodes were recalled as an average of the pain, not a sum.