In Chapter Two, Norman discusses human action from a psychological perspective and proposes solutions for how designers can better bridge the gap between humans and technology by understanding the underlying principles guiding human cognition and emotion.
How People Do Things
When evaluating how to design for human interaction, we must understand human actions at their core. Norman distinguishes between two "gulfs" that need to be bridged when humans interact with technology. 
1. Gulf of execution 
- What can I do? 
- How can I do it?
2. Gulf of evaluation
- What happened?
- Is this what I wanted?
These gulfs are small when the device provides enough information about its functionality to provide a good conceptual model and enough feedback for the user to understand the reactions that their actions have triggered.
→ We must bridge the gulfs through feedback, signifiers, mapping, constraints, and a good conceptual model
Seven Stages of Action
Norman then goes on to divide human action into seven stages: 
1. Goal 🎯
2. Plan 📝 
3. Specify ✍🏽
4. Perform 🤺
5. Perceive 👁️
6. Interpret ❓
7. Compare ⚖️
Stages 1 through 4 are the Stages of Execution → They bridge the gap between our goal and what actions need to be taken to get there. 
Stages 5 through 7 are the Stages of Evaluation → This is where we perceive, interpret and compare what happened to your original goal.
For designers, it is very important to determine the root cause of a goal to help a user solve their problems at their origin, perhaps even one step before the user realized that they needed a solution. → This requires good observational skills!
Human Levels of Cognition
Norman explains to us that conscious attention is required mostly for learning something new. 
After repeated repetition, overlearning occurs and the action becomes automatic. Once an activity has been repeated so many times it has become automatic, only difficult or unexpected events require conscious attention.
Most cognition is subconscious. Our subconscious thought is good at matching patterns, detecting trends, and predicting the future based on past perceptions. Subconscious cognition is quick and effortless, therefore also generalized and biased. 
Conscious thought is slow and labored. It is good at comparing, rationalizing, and finding explanations.
Emotion and Cognition
Cognition and emotion cannot be separated - they both affect each other! 
- Cognition provides understanding
- Emotion provides value judgments
A positive emotional state is ideal for creative thought whereas a negative emotional state is good for focus. They must however balance each other out in order for us to function. Too much positive emotion can cause us to lose focus whereas too much negative emotion can be the cause of anxiety.
Three Levels of Processing
In the next step, we learn about the three levels of processing of the human mind and how they are connected to emotional states.
1. Visceral → automatic, protective, reflexive
- Learned through sensitization and classical conditioning
- Fight or flight, attraction or repulsion
- Subconscious
- Precursors to emotions
Behavioral → learned skills, triggered by situations
- Largely subconscious 
- Performing a well-learned action
- When expectations are met: satisfaction, pride
- When expectations are not met: disappointment, shame
→ In Design: Feedback is critical to managing expectations!
Reflective → conscious cognition
- Deep understanding, decision making
- Slow, in hindsight, interpretative
- Evaluating and assigning responsibility
All three levels work together! 
The act of designing for all three levels of processing simultaneously is what Norman calls Emotional Design, a theory so important to him that he wrote a whole other book on the subject.
Shameless plug? Maybe. Will I read it next? Very likely :-) ​​​​​​​
Flow is defined as a state of cognition and emotion where the person feels totally "in the zone" and can lose all sense of time and place. Flow occurs when the task that is being accomplished is challenging and engaging enough to cause focus without being so hard as to be frustrating.
Humans naturally look for explanations for events, says Norman. That is why storytelling provides a powerful narrative and motivation for human actions.
However, we base these stories on the information we have at hand. If this information is false or incomplete, then we will often build erroneous mental models about what is happening when we complete an action. This can cause us to see causation where there is none and to falsely assign blame.
Humans generally assign blame to other people for their bad behavior and explain away their own bad behavior as a reaction to circumstances. 
But when interacting with technology, we tend to do the opposite: assign blame to ourselves when it is in fact the device that has not provided us with enough information or has not corrected for our human tendency to make mistakes.
Learned helplessness can occur when humans continuously fail at a seemingly simple task, causing them to feel shame and give up. It is, therefore, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Design for Positive Emotions
Norman finally introduces us to techniques to design for positive emotions when interacting with technology.
- Avoid assigning blame, avoid the word “failure”.
- Eliminate error messages, instead guide users toward the successful fulfillment of their task. 
- Make it possible to correct errors immediately without starting over. 
- Minimize the chance of erroneous action by providing appropriate affordances, feedback, signifiers, and constraints to guide the action. Make things work well even when they don’t go as planned. 
- Use feedforward to prompt users’ next actions as well as feedback on completed actions.
Seven Stages of Action
Lastly, Norman reframes the original seven stages of action to encompass what we have learned about human behavior and cognition:
1. What do I want to accomplish?
2. What are the alternative actions? 
3. What action can I do now?
4. How do I do it?
5. What happened?
6. What does it mean?
7. Is it ok? Have I accomplished my goal?

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