At the age of seventeen I started being interested in Product Design.

While I was learning about user interface design within Product Design, it seemed the most interesting to me at that time, I came across with different TEDxTalks and articles about Psychology Principles that designers should be aware of.

I started reading and watching, because I wanted to grow as a designer and I quickly realized that it wouldn’t just boost my design skills but also my social skills.

Here are 3 Psychology Principles I learned from design, that will make you better at designing and socializing.

I. Humans are bad at dealing with many options

There is one very famous Psychological Principle called Hick’s Law.

Image Source: Wikipedia

This, at the first sight, seems like a complicated equation, but can be broken down into a very easy definition.

Hick’s Law defines that it takes us more time to respond when we are offered to a certain number of options, because actions such as thinking, reasoning and deciding, means it will raise, what we call the cognitive load.

This can also lead to making no decisions at all, just because there are too many options and the person does not want to spend more time on that process.

With that knowledge we can now be more aware of how we are telling people something and what opportunites we offer them, when asking them a question.

II. Humans are easily distracted and tend to do two things at the same time (and they are bad at it)

In October 2011 the Dubai Police noted a 20% drop in car accidents. In Abu Dhabi it was 40% – so what happened?

If you are a designer you may be thinking about better design of streets/roads or better signs. This could, of course, have been a reason, but sadly none of these two options were causing this drop, because nobody made any changes on the design.

The actual reason for the drop is that the BlackBerry service (phone service) went down for 48 hours.

We can learn two things from that:

a) We often do two different things at the same time.
b) We are not good at doing two different things at the same time.

As we can see, we get easily distracted by a lot of stuff, which is why we must make sure that the people we are talking to, are actually really listening to our words.

III. Humans make decisions based on needs and feelings

What you can look at here is a graph, which displays the results of an Israeli study. This study looked at judical decisions, so decisions by judges in Israeli courts and they mapped it against time of the day (here: ordinal position).

Image Source: Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

On the left hand side is favorable decisions and on across the bottom axis it is time of the day. 

The hatch lines represent the time just before morning break and just before lunch. Effectively this is telling us that when people are hungry, they do not make the best decisions in the world.

This tells us that people are tired and hungry at certain points of the day.
Being aware of that can lead to more favorable decisions.

To everyone who is now thinking like “That was interesting. I want to learn more!”, I would like to recommend you to check out Joe Leech

He is a User Experience- and Product Management Consultant who was (formerly) working with companies such as eBay and the Rasperry Pi Foundation.

Because I am a really big fan of him and his talks I would like to close this post with a quote from him that should be read and internalised by every Product Designer out there.

“A designer who doesn’t understand psychology is going to be no more successful than an architect who doesn’t understand physics.”

-Joe Leech