Posts Tagged ‘psychology’

How good do you think you remember a well known Logo?

March 13, 2015 1 comment

There is an amount of brands we see everyday, just think of Apple, Coca Cola, BMW and Audi. How good do you think you remember their logo? Does it sound like an easy task?
Companies invest a lot of money on a good perceivable and memorable logo and aim to spread their logo into the last corner of the world. Regular exposure to the company’s logo keeps it in the memory of potential customers. Having the logo in memory increases the chance that potential customers buy the company’s product instead of a competing product, if they need such a product. This appears to happen even if it is a seldom needed product – such as a car.

The UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) conducted a study asking people to recall the Apple logo. As research results turned out the Apple logo was not as good memorable as one might think. 85 students took part in the study. The student’s age was between 18 and 35 years. 52 of the students are Apple users. Half of the people did not recognize the correct logo from a set of 8 distracting logos (exemplary see below). Interestingly the recognition rate was only marginally better for Apple users compared to other PC users.

However, if asked we seem to be confident about the accuracy of our memory. Overconfidence in the own memory accuracy was specifically higher if participants were asked before the memory task to rate their memory accuracy. When the participants were requested to do the memory task first, it made them more aware of the memory complexity and reduced the level of overconfidence in their own memory.

Source: Blake, A., Nazarian, M. & Castel, A. "Rapid communication - The Apple of the mind’s eye"

Source: Blake, A., Nazarian, M. & Castel, A. “Rapid communication – The Apple of the mind’s eye”

Beside a huge capacity for visual memory and long-term memory of visual data we seem to have poor memory for details. The researchers point out that the Apple logo is overrepresented in our daily live. In reaction to the overrepresentation we spend less attention to it, generalizing the logos form and avoiding attention to details. Naturally, if something appears frequently it is not necessary to memorize it in detail. So we memorize the logo as in the generalized form of an apple and add details as we think the apple Apple should look like. Maybe the memory is also influenced by the need for detail. I kept thinking of a similar logo that the apple Apple could potentially be confused with, but I cannot recall of something similar. Maybe people would have shown a better recognition for details if they were required to distinguish the Apple logo from something very similar.

If you want to try the test yourself:

Source: Memory of the Apple Logo – research conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles


Training of interpreting facial expressions

December 15, 2013 Leave a comment

Seven basic emotional expressions are the same independent from the culture:

smile, sadness, disgust, fear, surprise, anger, scorn

Paul Ekman proved it as he brought photos from everywhere over the world with similar facial expressions for those emotions. This is also true for the natives living in the deep of the rainforest with nearly no contact to the western civilisation. He and a colleague studied each muscle in the face and evaluated its influence on the mimic. So they defined mimic movements executed by one or more muscles, so-called Action Units. On a higher level the action units are then combined to expressions of emotions. Beside facial expression the whole body and the voice contribute to emotional expression as well.

Other emotional expressions and gestures then the ones listed on top are cultural dependent.

With a bit of training everybody can learn to identify subtle facial expressions in your conversation partner. Mostly they flash within parts of a second over the face. The unconscious part of our brain is nevertheless fast interpreting them. Evolutionary it has the background that it is very helpful to interpret e.g. the expression of a wild animal as soon as possible. In some situations it is  a question of live or death. The training helps to transform the indefinite gut feeling into knowledge. As good as one might get be aware that you only find out the facial expression but not its cause. Further signs from body language and voice contribute to an emotional expression as well. Those signs combined can influence on how you proceed with your conversation and therewith contribute to find the cause of the emotion.

I did not try the training personally but if you are interessted you can find information here:

Categories: Psychology Tags:

Hands-free, eyes-free but cognitive distracted drivers

There is a tendency to provide interaction means that keep the driver’s hands and eyes free in a car. An example are mobile phones. The first mobile phones were used in a car like usual, one hand on the phone and in case before selecting the correct number or checking who is calling. Then the hand-free speaking system was invented and options to select a number with the steering wheel.

What remains is still a shared attention. One part still focusing on the street, more like an autopilot fulfilling the known learned actions to drive a car, and the other part involved in the phone call. Talking with someone on the phone opens like a second reality. The mind activates memories on that person and shared knowledge about the topic of conversation.

Cognitive resources like attention and decision making are limited. In shared attention the “auto pilot” might work well for known situations of driving such as following the lane and reaction to traffic lights. However if something unusual happens reaction time increases if the situation has been interpreted correctly or even the perception of the situation is delayed and  any reaction is too late, like a kid chasing a ball.

Donald Norman explained this topics in one of his books and the AAA (American Automobile Association) just released a study validating that fact. The study brought evidence of longer reaction times while talks on the phone. Those are resulting from less scanning of the road and therewith missing cues for happenings in the surroundings like pedestrians (a kind of inattentional blindness).

Source: AAA foundation "Measuring cognitive distraction in the automobile" (June 2013)

Source: AAA foundation “Measuring cognitive distraction in the automobile” (June 2013)

Study composition:
3 experiments, each of them with a single task, a concurrent task listening to a radio, a concurrent task listening to a book on a tape, a concurrent task conversation with a passenger and a concurrent task conversation via a hands-free cell phone.
Performance was measured with NASA TLX, Electroencephalographic activity, response time and accuracy to a peripheral light and event related brain potentials. Those data was combined to a rating system for the cognitive distraction. Low-end is 1 and high-end is 5. The cell phone conversation was rated with 2,27 and the speech-to-text condition with 3,06.

The first experiment solved for the basement assessment. Therefore the participants sat in front of a computer screen with a static cross. They performed the later on concurrent tasks without the driving tasks. The measured workload for each of the tasks contributes to estimate the amount of distraction for the driving task. The experiment two took place in a driving simulator (the participants should follow a pace car through moderate traffic while fulfilling the concurrent tasks) and experiment three in a real car – a Subaru Outback.

Further reading / Sources:

A summary on the dvice website.
A summary on the AAA webpage.
The original paper of the AAA study (53 pages).

Myths in emergency situations

December 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Rescue of people from specific situation depends on three factors, the type of danger (e.g. fire or gas), the given infrastructure and the human. The type of danger influences the availability and risks of escape routes. The infrastructure influences in which situation people are when a danger appears and the design of escape routes accordingly, so escape routes in an underground station are different to escape routes in office buildings.

  1. Myth one – human start with the escape immediately after hearing the alarm

First the alarm signal needs to be consciously perceived, meaning it has to be differentiated from the surrounding noise. In a noisy environment sound alone can be insufficient and is enhanced with a redundant visual signal. Information perceived with more than one perceptual channel gets more attention. Even perceived it is not immediately covered with meaning (when you hear an alarm tone it may gets your attention and signals urgency but an according action or danger is not automatically known and transmitted by the alarm tone) it is needed to weather be enhanced with an announcement or trained (like fire alarm trainings in office buildings). An alarm needs to be believed as real to cause an action. A high number of false alarms lead to the “cry-wolf-syndrome” and might lead to the situation that some persons completely ignore the alarms even in case they are true. The alarm should be interpreted to call the person, if its interpreted correctly an adequate action will follow. But e.g. fire alarms bear the risk that people will than interpret them correctly if they have additional evidence through e.g. smell or see a sign of fire which leads to higher personnel risks. Nevertheless it’s the decision of the person how to behave some might despite of an alarm stay there as visitor of the event.

  1. Myth two – correct adherence to safety guidelines guarantees the safety of users in a flight situation

Safety guidelines are written on a general level to be applicable for a greater area. They provide a minimum set of measures required to be implemented for safety. Some aspects of the specific situation might not be covered as their content is general. For a specific situation it needs to be and the implemented measures to be validated ensuring an adequate level of safety.

At another point safety is undermined by the users themselves. So during daily use escape routes might be blocked by office equipment and escape doors kept open. Good design considering the use of the environment could avoid such faults. Further safety awareness needs to be learned practiced regularly so a regular training can also help.

  1. Myth three – Existing emergency exits are used equally

Simulation of escape situations assumes all emergency exits to be used equally by the people. However, under stressful situations all senses are focused on the escape and people tend reduced resources for thinking and just take the way the entered as emergency exit. Additional workload through new environments is avoided this way. Further escape route signs and alternate routes that the person might sees daily get ignored as unused information (learned irrelevance).

Escape doors should be attractive and good illuminated without any alarms in emergency cases. This can be contrary to the usual situation where they are ignored. Analysis of the escape routes should be a direct way outside avoiding people think about a shorter route (see myth 4).

  1. Myth four – Humans do not run through smoke

Toxic gases are a great risk in case of a fire, breathing carbon monoxide can lead to death in short time. Nevertheless humans also go through smoke to help other persons, but also in some cases because they underestimate the risk and want to take the shortest route.

  1. Myth five – Emergency situations lead to panic which causes an egoistic behaviour in humans

Mass panic is a phenomenon related to a bad relation between space in the environment and number of people. If people get stuck and new people urge to get into the room it can lead to panic. People then see no other option then to escape. However avoiding the critical factors of space and number of people, people tend to help each other in emergency situations. Research is going on to understand situations where people just think about survival and fall back in this mass behavior described as panic.

Source and more informaton (German):

Natural Signalling Theory

Operators in a call center rely on their selling skills, convincing people to buy a specific product. A new measuring device made obvious that convincing is not dependent on logical arguments rather than subtle signals transmitted in the voice. After a several minutes successful calls could be predicted. The device tracked pitch and tone, not words or logic of the communication. Successful operators speak less and listen a lot. When they do speak, their voices fluctuate strongly in amplitude and pitch, suggesting interest and responsiveness to the customer’s needs.

The measuring devices are integrated in the clothes or eyeglasses, developed at the Human Dynamics Group at the MIT, led by Alex Pentland. The device tracks the position, upper body movement, pitch and tone of voice of the person. Analyses like the one above show that human behaviour is not dependent on meaning and reasoning as mostly expected. The statement “what is said matters not how it is said” can easily be flawed by subtle indicators: voice, body language, rhythm of workspace, time spent on tasks and patterns of social networks. Complex social behaviour of animals shows that language is not a pre-condition for social behaviour. Animals communicate their behaviour via subtle signals.

Subtle signals have a wide range of influence, e.g. the decision of managers, team functions and decisions and the establishment of social networks in the organization. Often the underlying network of personal interactions is forgotten or hidden by the organizational structure. But its health or dysfunction can determine the effectiveness of a team or organization as it represents the flow of information, e.g. two groups on whose information sharing the companies welfare depends might have difficulties and communicate just over one person (bottleneck).

Those testable devices help to evaluate person-to-person relationships, the social network structure beneath the organizational structure. Formerly network analysts relied on questionnaires, it was not possible to hide in a corner and observe the “real communication”, also the number of tracked behaviour indicators is enhanced with the device. Other areas of application are early detection of burn out, advanced testing of new products, search the fitting position for new employees, as learning device for managers improving their persuasiveness and as medical device for people with depression. In all cases privacy of the data has to be ensured and adequate methods therefore be developed.

Categories: Psychology Tags:

McGurk Effekt

Wir alle kennen akustische Illusionen, z.B. “Schatz bring doch bitte mal den Müll runter.”. Der Satz gelangt zwar in das Gehör aber durch automatische Ausblendung nicht in das Bewustsein. Interessant ist das visuelle Information akustische Informationen überlagert. Schaut euch unten stehendes Video an.

Selbst wenn der Effekt bewusst gemacht wird bleibt er erhalten. 1970 wurde er von McGurk entdeckt, als er die Wahrnehmung von Kleinkindern untersuchte.

Categories: Psychology Tags: