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Cognitive Biases, Heuristics and Decision-Making in Design for Behaviour Change

Dan Lockton

Royal College of Art

August 5, 2012

Much human behaviour can be seen as decision-making, and so understanding and influencing those decision-making processes could be an important component in design for behaviour change. This paper examines the 'heuristics and biases' approach to modelling decision-making, and attempts to extract insights which are relevant to designers working to influence user behaviour for social or environmental benefit -- either by exploiting biases, or helping to counter those which lead to undesirable behaviour. Areas covered include a number of specific cognitive biases in detail, and the alternative perspective of Gigerenzer and others, who contend (following Herbert Simon) that many heuristics potentially leading to biases are actually ecologically rational, and part of humans' adaptive responses to situations. The design relevance of this is briefly considered, and implications for designers are summarised.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 19

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Date posted: August 6, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Lockton, Dan, Cognitive Biases, Heuristics and Decision-Making in Design for Behaviour Change (August 5, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2124557 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2124557

Contact Information

Dan Lockton (Contact Author)
Royal College of Art ( email )
Kensington Gore
London, SW7 2EU
United Kingdom
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