“the conscious mind is simply not running the show”

“How these research studies are done is at sharp odds with what science now knows. The elephant in the room is that the vast majority of our decisions are made unconsciously. What is a no-brainer for any cognitive scientist remains mind-boggling to marketers. The conscious mind is simply not running the show, but we’ve created an entire industry pretending that it does.” The article from Fast Company

Douglas Van Praet’s recent article in Fast Company captured my attention in the way that any article that looks like it might have a user-research component does (and also because Karl despises the word “consumer” (although he is really against the tendency in the U.S. for the dialogue to be about consumers as opposed to citizens)).

This article is pretty much exclusively aimed at marketers who are making heavy use of focus groups and I think that most UX professionals would agree that focus groups are among the least useful user research techniques when it comes to learning what you need to know to create meaningful information architectures and user interfaces. (And it was very heartening to see several comments from UX professionals in response to the article.)

(And of course folks like Dan Ariely have made powerful arguments that the exact same criticism can be said of the entire field of Economics.)

Julie Dirksen, an instructional designer (and friend) has long been interested in the cognitive underpinnings of motivation, decision making, etc. This topic frequently comes up on her blog Usable Learning.

I’ve been so time starved the past several years that my professional reading has been exclusively limited to “must read” as opposed to “should read.” To that end, I have a couple relevant books on my shelf that I’ve skimmed but not truly *read*–another thing for the to-do list:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *