Author: David Travis
DDavid Travis is a user experience consultant and trainer at Userfocus. He has a BSc and a PhD in psychology and he is a Chartered Psychologist.
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How do you make decisions? If you're like most people, you'll probably answer that you pride yourself on weighing the pros and cons of a situation carefully and then make a decision based on logic. You know that other people have weak personalities and are easily swayed by their emotions, but this rarely happens to you. You've just experienced the fundamental attribution error — the tendency to believe that other people's behaviour is due to their personality (“Josh is late because he's a disorganised person”) whereas our behaviour is due to external circumstances (“I'm late because the directions were useless”).
Cognitive biases like these play a significant role in the way we make decisions so it's not surprising that people are now examining these biases to see how to exploit them in the design of web sites. I'm going to use the term ‘persuasion architects' to describe designers who knowingly use these techniques to influence the behaviour of users. (Many skilled designers already use some of these psychological techniques intuitively — but they wouldn't be able to articulate why they have made a particular design choice. The difference between these designers and persuasion architects is that persuasion architects use these techniques intentionally).Read more...