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Nir’s Note: Buster Benson is a product manager at Slack who worked previously at Twitter and Habit Labs and is working on a new book about cognitive biases. He’ll be speaking at the upcoming Habit Summit in April. (You can register here!) In this interview, he chats with Max Ogles about how cognitive biases affect product design.
Q: You recently compiled and organized a list of more than 200 cognitive biases — our tendencies to think and act in quirky ways. What is it that draws you to biases?
Nir’s Note: Susan Weinschenk is a behavioral scientist, author, and speaker at the upcoming Habit Summit in April. (You can register here!) In this interview, she chats with Max Ogles about some of the overlooked principles of behavioral design.
Q: You’re the author of the book, One Hundred Things Every Designer Should Know About People. What’s the one takeaway from the book readers get most excited about?
Susan Weinschenk: One thing that often surprises people is the important role of peripheral vision.
Nir’s Note: This guest post is by Erik Johnson. Erik applies behavioral design principles on The Behavioral Insights Team at Morningstar.
Six years ago, I was in a position that many people early in their careers find themselves in: I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. My first job out of college took good care of me and was interesting enough, but I knew it wasn’t the career I wanted in the long term. I needed something else, so I started reading and exploring what was out there. One day, as I was reading a blog post on psychology, I discovered a book called Nudge that caught my eye. I bought it immediately and devoured it. The book opened a whole new realm of psychology and economic thinking that I had no idea existed me in a way nothing else had. This was what I was looking for in my search.
Around the election, in a desperate search for answers about our nation’s future, I found myself scrolling, reading, and watching everything I could. I was trapped in an endless pull-to-refresh cycle of consuming more news, tweets, posts, and videos than was good for me. I told myself that I was staying informed, that this was part of my civic duty—and that not staying up-to-date 24-7 would leave me politically ignorant and impotent.
I’ve since changed my mind. In fact, I’ve decided to give up consuming news online, and I think you should consider doing the same. Here’s why:
The subject line read: “did you see this?” The message was from my editor Jen. “Nir, I saw the headline on this story and thought it might be written by you—but no!” she wrote. “Very weird.” I instantly clicked on the link she’d sent.
Not so long ago, my after work routine looked like this: After a particularly grueling day, I’d sit on the couch and veg for hours, doing my solo version of “Netflix and chill,” which meant keeping company with a cold pint of ice cream. I knew the ice cream, and the sitting, were probably a bad idea, but I told myself this was my well-deserved “reward” for working so hard.
Psychological researchers have a name for this phenomenon: it’s called “ego depletion.” The theory is that willpower is connected to a limited reserve of mental energy, and once you run out of that energy, you’re more likely to lose self-control. This theory would seem to perfectly explain my after-work indulgences.