Posts tagged “perception”

The Color of Money

A report from a University of Guelph study explains that

People are more likely to spend dirty, crumpled currency and hold on to new bills. [But] in social situations, people reach for new bills even when they have older higher-denomination currency on hand.

Researcher Theodore Noseworthy explains

We tend to regard currency as a means to consumption and not a product itself. It should not matter if it’s dirty or worn because it has the same value regardless. But money is a vehicle for social utility, and it’s subject to the same inferences and biases as the products it can buy.

This suggests some design opportunities for digital money. I recently tried Square’s new service that lets you email cash to anyone (US only). The user experience was so minimalist and utterly delightful – and such a change from the dirge of PayPal (even without the frequent frustrations). If I’m sending someone an experience as part of sending them money, the quality of that experience may be something to consider (also, it’s free; also it’s a good experience for me as the sender).

ChittahChattah Quickies

The “Flashed Face Effect” Makes Normal People Look Monstrous – – This demonstration shows pretty dramatically that direct focus creates dramatic distortions in our perceptions of peripheral objects. Specifically here, faces. For me, the faces turned into Second Life-type avatars. The video here proves this optic effect beyond a doubt; the psychological implications are even more interesting. This effect is why it is so important for us to go back to the recordings or transcripts of our interviews to reshift that focus. In the interview itself we are so fully focused on our unfamiliar surroundings and the project objectives and questions, and on responding to body-language, and on all the crazy things that can happen in someone’s home like crazed husbands and bugs, that a lot of interesting stuff in the periphery can easily be lost or misunderstood.

If you’re like most people, you’ll notice that the women you thought had hideous deformities while looking at the center of the screen are actually completely normal looking. Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia are calling this the “flashed face effect.” How it works is that your brain focuses in on the main differences in each juxtaposition, thereby augmenting that difference to grotesque proportions. “If someone has a large jaw, it looks almost ogre-like,” write the scientists. “If they have an especially large forehead, then it looks particularly bulbous.” The researchers say they don’t yet know why the effect occurs, but they’re attempting to find out now. In the meantime, hard as it may be, remember not to always trust your brain and eyes.

Speaking of crazed husbands and bugs, and surprises in the field, we’ve written of them before: What To Expect When You’re Not Expecting It.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] National Onion Labs, Inc. – [Bet you didn't know that there was a national onion lab, or that there were standards for onion certification. Now you do. You're so very welcome!] People use onions for their unique and distinctive flavors and by looking for the appropriate NOL certification you can be assured that the onion you choose will be appropriate for your use. Look for NOL’s trustworthy quality certification Certified Extra Sweet®, Certified Sweet®, Certified Medio™ and Certified Sizzler™ when selecting onions.
  • [from steve_portigal] From Muses To Music: Where Ideas Come From [NPR] – [Transcript of a Talk of the Nation episode at the Aspen Ideas Festival, with a broad cross-section of participants.This was my favorite snippet.] Q: Joining us now is Eric Fischl. He's a painter and sculptor…Not where do your ideas come from, but how do you come up with them? A: I'm a painter of people, so one of the sources of my inspiration is body language. And when I see people sitting, standing, moving, twisting, turning in very specific, very idiosyncratic ways, I'm riveted by it. I don't know why. If I have my camera with me, I take a photograph of it. And then back in my studio, I look at that photograph and try to find a context for explaining why I was fascinated by that particular gesture.[They don't all work out] but the process is always fascinating.
  • [from steve_portigal] Technological Superstition [The Technium] – [KK takes a direct look at how we imbue objects with meaning, although he frames it as "superstition." Funny how that word really agitates me, whereas my term (meaning) is pacifying. In our work, perception often is reality, but I'm refreshed and challenged by Kevin's close reading of reality, just plain reality.] They honestly believe that artifacts can transmit the aura of a human who uses it. In this case, the steel transmits the bravery of the firemen rescuers, and the innocence of the civilians who died. But it can also transmit cooties. They believe that wearing Hitler's sweater would be a bad idea, while sleeping in a room (completely remodeled) that Lincoln slept in is a good idea. This is magical thinking….In the end, a historical technological artifact is one of the reservoirs in the modern world where superstition still flows freely.

Greenwashing the streets

Springwise tells us about ads that “clean” the streets.

[Using] high-pressure cleaning machines to wash brands, logos and adverts onto dirty pavements…the SAS team blasts the stencil with water and steam on dirty walls, roads, pavements or even road signs…Nothing but water and steam are used, and it’s all perfectly environmentally friendly and legal, SAS stresses. …”[W]e wanted to apply a technique that was not just eye-catching and effective but also friendly to the environment. What could be more natural than water?”

But wasting water is hardly environmentally friendly! And steam requires fuel to produce. This sort of claim is too easy for anyone to make and is too often unscrutinized, like the folks at Springwise who reiterated the company’s hollow verbiage without challenge.

I would have (seriously) rated the grade of toilet paper

In My Microsoft Google Yahoo Stories we get some comparisons of internship experiences at 3 big tech companies. I don’t recommend the article necessarily, only to provide context for this awesome chart.
I love how the deconstruction of the experiences (related in detailed narratives in the article) into these specific categories give a blunt and amusing summary of, well, the person relating it. What categories we create to represent something qualitative tells a lot about us and how we make sense of those experiences.

We really care about you *STEVE * PORTIGAL *

In yesterday’s mail comes this silly glossy ad ahem magazine from Farmer’s (our insurance company) entitled you belong, with lots of great stories about how quickly they pay up after storm damage and so on.

And to really deliver the feeling that I do indeed belong, comes this highly personalized note from our local agent.

I like the transition from [soft TV voice on] “Please don’t hesitate to contact me. That’s why I’m here.” [soft TV voice off] to the ridiculous dot-matrix font that throws in consumer-irrelevant database numbers like

directly in my face. Yep, I sure feel like I belong. A real personal connection.

This is a technical failure, a design failure, but also failure of “getting it” – some folks at Farmer’s are missing the point in a serious way.


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