Why we are procrastinating more during Covid-19 Pandemic and what we can do about it?

The intriguing and worrisome characteristic of an emerging infectious disease is that the precise cause is at first unknown. This uncertainty in itself may increase the level of psychosocial morbidity. -Sim and Chua.

It has become common today to use the phrase 'Unprecedented Situation' due to pandemic. Several productivity apps and gurus are focusing on how can we combat the habit of delaying tasks or decisions which is simply known as Procrastination. Conventional wisdom has it that if it does not get diagnosed or treated well, it can rob one's life of its precious value and can have serious consequences. For instance, chronic procrastinators have this perception that they have an unlimited amount of time left with them and this attitude is mostly categorised as a dispositional construct. Yet I would argue that sometimes external situational reasons like pandemic can create temporary discomfort of not able to take actions. Overall, then, I believe how we feel about the tasks or decisions and its associated emotional attribute is an important point to make given we know ourselves in regards to the behaviour of procrastination.

When it comes to the topic of knowing ourselves, most of us will readily agree that even people who are self-aware can also become confused during these times as it gets correlated with anxiety. Where this agreement usually ends, however, is on the question of whether it leads to procrastination behaviour. Whereas some researches show the correlation between the anxiety and academic procrastination, I myself found the associations between anxiety and unintentional procrastination in my own recent research.

Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis say that when we are anxious and frustrated, we feel angry. In this view, we cope with this stress in different ways. By focusing on the tentative causes of procrastination, we overlook the deeper problem of demarcating the self-concept and anxiety. My own view is that when thoughts of anxiety get engulfed with our self-concept, it creates a psychological barrier in intentionally articulating the task or decision. It gets to add up and it shows in our personality eventually. In further steps, we second-question things, delve ourselves in dilemmas, creates unnecessary choices just to maintain uncertainty, feeds or focus on negative events. This is a dangerous vicious cycle and it starts from the uncertainty.

These findings and observations have important implications for the broader domain of psychology in which the important concept of intolerance of uncertainty resides. This construct has significant applications in clinical settings where we can give behavioural interventions and finally see the effect on procrastination behaviour. Intolerance of uncertainty is a cognitive, emotional and behavioural response which gets combined with the inability to cope and inaccurate assessments. When we appoint negative belief in uncertain situations, we are reinforcing our personality towards negativity. Ultimately, what is at stake here is, we try to avoid anything negative and in process of avoiding negative events, we tend to deprioritise or forget about the task itself or react impulsively which decreases our initial motivation to do work and gets distracted by short term temptations.

Taking the wisdom from epic Mahabharata, imagine what if Arjun got distracted from his work (or karma)? He initially got confused by the dilemma of whether he should fight with their own family members or not. This can be taken as a form of decisional procrastination as he was not able to make a decision and hence was delaying. To solve this, Shri Krishna understood his emotional state. He said, hey Arjun whatever you are going through I can understand, but please do understand this, this is your dharma, you have to do it. You are engulfed with the immediate results of the tasks and so you are not able to see the larger picture. In this world, you have a definite set of tasks you have to do. This life is short and mortal. New people will come and they will do their tasks. Why are so worried about the consequences?

Though I believe that we can learn from this about the procrastination and reason to believe in keep doing the action, I still maintain that when we can demarcate between the task and the cognitive, emotional and behavioural consequences of that task; we will be able to proceed effectively by having a full futuristic vision ahead without focusing on results. From this perspective, we will understand that our self-concept and the temporary psychological state we feel about initiating or conducting a task is different. In sum, we just have to leave our obsessions with our tasks or decisions' consequences and see the larger picture.

Sneek peeks into my daily journal.

Sharing few pages from my personal diary.

Diary writing can be one of the crucial tools to reflect and instil change in life. It is a method to translate our subconscious thoughts into more structured and mindful conscious communication that has the power of not only establishing communication with the audience but with yourself. It quenches your soul.

Day 1. Being Grateful to Loved Ones. 

Increasing self-esteem requires help from the closed network and friends. I started my journal by performing this important activity of being thankful to people who love you and their presence in your life. This focuses on a more positive attribute of life. Starting with parents, being the constant companions, and I today explicitly thanked them for all the unconditional things they have done for me. I felt great and they also felt happy. I also called my close friends and thanked them for showing me the path and help.

Day 2. Breaking the pattern 

After being grateful, I started with little things like I discarded the old small clothes, started wearing good clothes even inside the house to create positive vibes. I started appreciating more and apologising if I am wrong or I made someone uncomfortable, asking for help whenever I am stuck or whenever I wanted to delegate some work as I realised in this short life you can not do everything for yourself. And I received very good and positive responses. People generally like to help others. Impression management is critically important in maintaining social relationships.

Day 3. Changing the body to change mind. 

Changing the body image and what you feel about yourself impacts the mind due to the body-mind connection. I worked on my eating and sleeping habits. Also started practising yoga by taking help from my mother as she served as a yoga teacher for 38 years and just retired. Took her help in maintaining the diet including the superfoods, replaced the oil with olive oil, practising meditation and control on thoughts. I religiously followed a strict routine and it showed positive results in my Fitbit tracker and in performing daily activities.

Day 4. Recognizing Accomplishments

Life can be hard if we tend to focus on negative events. To increase self-esteem it's imperative to recognize milestones achieved. During my meditation, I thought about all the positive things. To start, I felt grateful for the constant good markings during my masters. Getting As in subjects definitely boosts confidence and it's a loop in itself. I also realised that managing work and studies is not an easy task, especially during pandemic situations. So I focused on how people and friends gave compliments of my hard work and management style. I always took it as a compliment and replied to them-‘You gotta do what you got to do’.

Day 5. Decluttering Life & Mind 

I today learnt the art of minimalism. The concept resonates with my personality and it compliments my vibe. In Marie Kondo style, I today thanked the older stuff which I was not using and kept only those things which brought me joy. This was the hardest activity as letting go of things are not easy. Clearing the clutter made space for meaningful and necessary things. It also affected my mind as I also created a mental space and so I can focus and maintain a few and important things only.

Day 6. Forgetting Rejections 

Rejections can fluctuate self-esteem so drastically and this was the theme for day 6. Remembering my experience of being friends with IIT Bombay people and mentioning them here is important to understand the context. I observed that these bunch of friends constantly seek to improve and learn new things ‘every single day’. They also have this tendency to focus on their own lives. These people avoided thinking for other people and remained fixed on their values which helped in remaining focused on their tasks and life. During emotional times, they combat by either escaping in their studies or being vocal about things. They did not keep things in their heart and never assumed things. Rejections also happen in their life but there is a minute difference which I noticed, they don't give much energy to rejections. They keep calm and remain in the flow. I today inculcated this kind of behaviour and also entertained people if they have some direct concern or need help from me.

Day 7. Wrapping up in boldness 

Today I wanted to achieve substantial and tangible goals in my goal achievements by applying what I learned. After feeling positive about my body, feeling light after decluttering things from life and mind, forgetting rejections, feeling grateful, I accumulated courage and asked one potential match for the date meeting today. I wanted to express my interest in the alliance. I focused on my self-presentation, carefully choosing positive words, mirroring his actions, listening to him carefully. Also communicating that I have high self-esteem, I courageously asked him. He smiled and said yes in return. This was a major self-confidence and self-esteem boost in itself.

Maintaining a diary are writing every day is a form of meditation. It gives a necessary pause in a day during which you reflect and get into that zone. I hope this excerpt will inspire the writing enthusiasts to maintain their own diary.

100 books in 200 days: Creating a robust knowledge base by reading since lockdown started.

Listing down all books I have been reading during lockdown thus creating a knowledge base for behavioural science, psychology and design.

You are what you read. The following curations rank high on Google under behavioural science books and are bestsellers and highly reviewed on Amazon and Goodreads as well. Some of them were in my degree coursework and were highly recommended by my university professors and friends.

I am mentioning my favourite, thought-provoking quote from each book. Keep on scrolling to see if your favourite book is on the list. The full post can also be accessed by visiting my website radhikadutt.com

Keywords: Behavioural Economics, Behavioral Science, UX Design, UI UX, Product Design, Psychology, Critical Thinking, Gamification

#1. 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

Think about the pattern of behavior you’re looking for, and then adjust the schedule of rewards to fit that schedule. Use a variable ratio schedule for the maximum behavior repetition.

#2. 101 UX Principles

Through the use of user testing, A/B testing and analytics research, it should be possible to identify common user journeys and optimize the defaults for the vast majority of users.

#3. Acting With Power

Instability within hierarchies activates deep-seated fears and insecurities that make us cling to old habits and trigger knee-jerk impulses at precisely the time when we need to consider options and try something new.

#4. Actionable Gamification

Gamification is a combination of Game Design, Game Dynamics, Motivational Psychology, Behavioral Economics, UX/UI, Neurobiology, Technology Platforms, and Business Systems that drive an ROI.

#5. Algorithms to Live By

Math says you should keep looking noncommittally until you’ve seen 61% of applicants, and then only leap if someone in the remaining 39% of the pool proves to be the best yet.

#6. Articulating Design Decisions

Our decisions are based on getting the user to act, which is the ultimate purpose of any website or app.

#7. At the Interface of Transactional Analysis, Psychoanalysis, and Body Psychotherapy

Emotion orchestrates the action of multiple response systems so that they act in a unified way in the service of solving problems. This view of emotion as an organizer stands in stark contrast to the oft-expressed view of emotion as a disorganizer or disrupter.

#8. Behavioural Economics Guide 2020

Behavioral sciences and design are old friends, although this long-standing relationship is going to change significantly in the years to come, yielding benefits to behavioral and social scientists, economists and designers.

#9. Being Logical

To be in a state of uncertainty concerning the truth is neither a pleasant nor a desirable state to be in, and we should always be striving to get out of such states as soon as possible.

#10. Blindsight

When it comes to making urgent purchase decisions, research has shown that the mere saliency of a product’s appearance—its noticeability, arising from the combination of high-contrast visual features such as contours, edges, and color contrast—dramatically increases the likelihood of it being selected.

#11. Bottlenecks

Several minor behavioral commitments and small reinforcements can produce behavioral outcomes that we would otherwise refuse to perform if we are asked all at once.

#12. Burnout

Exhaustion happens when we get stuck in an emotion.

#13. Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Instability within hierarchies activates deep-seated fears and insecurities that make us cling to old habits and trigger knee-jerk impulses at precisely the time when we need to consider options and try something new.

#14. Communicating the UX Vision

Design means change. Change means risk. And risk makes people worry about their paychecks.

#15. Consumerology

For some reason, presumably of evolutionary benefit, people feel loss far more powerfully than they feel gain.

#16. Control - a history of behavioural psychology

The “cognitive revolution” is usually treated as a paradigm shift.

#17. Decoding Decisions

A better understanding of the cognitive biases that underpin decision-making can help to create a compelling proposition that appeals to shoppers at an instinctive level.

#18. Design for How People Think

While we may like to think we can be like Spock from Star Trek and make decisions completely logically, it has been well documented that a myriad of emotions affect both our experience and our thinking.

#19. Design for the Mind

Conformity is extremely powerful in that it can prevent people from engaging in behaviors perceived to be against the norm, and it can promote individuals engaging in certain behaviors without much (or any) additional effort.

#20. Designing for Behaviour Change

The first time that users try out your application, they immediately judge it based on their prior experiences and associations. You don’t have time to convince them logically; the judgment is made in an instant.

Scrolling this list on your email? Easily access and scroll on a website link here.

Open Link

#21. Designing Products for Evolving Digital Users

Design is always a conversation. It is never a monologue, even when it is a sole endeavour. There is always an exchange of ideas that happens as part of the process, even if those are ideas generated within your own mind.

#22. Designing Social Interfaces

When you are designing experiences for people, or designing frameworks within which people will create their own experiences, there is always an ethical dimension.

#23. Designing with the Mind in Mind

The designer’s goal is to devise a conceptual model that is task focused, as simple as possible, and as consistent as possible.

#24. Designing Data Visualizations

Efficiency matters, because if you’re wasting a viewer’s time or energy, they’re going to move on.

#25. Designing the Invisible

When we communicate, body language conveys the most meaning (55%), followed by tone of voice (38%) and finally the words themselves (7%).

#26. Designing with Data

The human mind is very good at creating artificial groupings based on relative position and shape.

#27. Digital Health and the Gamification of Life

The sophisticated architecture of the games allows us to feel a part of something bigger than us.

#28. Engaged- Designing for Behavior Change

Behavior change design is the application of psychological methods and research to the development of products, services, or experiences.

#29. Exotic Preferences- Behavioral Economics and Human

All economics involves psychology. Bayes’ rule, the rational expectations assumption and the theory of revealed preference are all psychological assumptions about how people form expectations and what motivates them. The question for economics is not whether to include or exclude psychology, but rather what type of psychology to include.

#30. Fixing Bad UX Designs

90% of users confirmed that they stopped using an app because of poor performance, and 86% of them deleted or uninstalled an app because they found problems with its functionality or design.

#31. Gamification By Design

Game designers leave nothing to chance. The entire experience of a player is in some way contrived, or at least optimized, to maximize the odds of success. Although it might seem serendipitous, it almost never is.

#32. Gamify

Gamification is not new. Game mechanics and design have been used to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals throughout recorded history. Gamification is about rethinking motivation in a world where we are more often connected digitally than physically. It is about building motivation into a digitally engaged world. And we are just getting started in this journey.

#33. Gut Feelings

There are two ways to understand the nature of gut feelings. One is derived from logical principles and assumes that intuition solves a complex problem with a complex strategy. The other involves psychological principles, which bet on simplicity and take advantage of our evolved brain.

#34. How Designers Think

Our understanding of design problems and the information needed to solve them depends to a certain extent upon our ideas for solving them.

#35. How To Analyze People

When you manipulate, you lie, deceive and try to hide what’s really going on. When you persuade, you’re able, to be honest and upfront about what you’re trying to do, because you have no reason to hide if it isn’t done for personal gain.

#36. How to Win Every Argument

Recognition that reason and emotion have separate spheres of influence is as old as Plato's division of the soul. David Hume put it succinctly, telling us that passion moves us to act, whereas reason directs the course of those actions. Emotion, in other words, motivates us to do things, but reason enables us to calc- ulate what to do.

#37. How We Decide

We humans could contemplate our emotions and use words to dissect the world, parsing reality into neat chains of causation. We could accumulate knowledge and logically ana­ lyze problems. We could tell elaborate lies and make plans for the future. Sometimes, we could even follow our plans.

#38. Human Agency and Behavioral Economics

Whenever people think that the motivations of the choice architect are illicit, they will disapprove of the nudge, whether it involves education or not.

#39. Interviewing Users

You should position yourself in your organization so that interviewing customers is an integral part of how you work. If this wasn’t part of your arrangement upon being hired, you need to evolve your brand with your managers and colleagues. If you can’t do that, consider your future in that organization.

#40. Introducing Game Theory

Human rationality is limited by the tractability of the decision problem (how easy it is to manage), the cognitive limitations of our minds, the time available in which to make the decision, and how important the decision is to us.

#41. Introducing Logic

Gödel’s incompleteness theorem means that there cannot be a program using a finite number of steps to check any program to see whether it will reach a conclusion or halt. This has become known as the “halting problem”. Such a program would be equivalent to a system in which you could consistently compute all numbers, and that is an impossibility.

#42. Introducing Psychology

Psychology as a discipline could benefit from recombining with some of the philosophy that it was earlier so careful to distance itself from. As well as the “techniques” of philosophy (e.g. logical reasoning, identifying arguments and fallacies), Psychologists could learn much from the Big Issues – the definition of consciousness, the mind-body debate, the role of faith in thinking, free-will vs. determinism, and ethics.

#43. Introducing Statistics

The first statistical quality control test for industry was devised by the statistician and chemist William Sealy Gosset, a master brewer at Guinness in the early years of the 20th century. Since Gosset was bound by his appointment not to publish under his own name (perhaps because Guinness didn’t want rival breweries to know that they were training some of their scientific staff in statistical theory), he adopted the pseudonym “Student”.

#44. Invisible Influence

‘Snob effects’ describe cases in which an individual’s demand for goods or services is negatively correlated with market demand. The more other people who own or use something, the less interested new people are in buying or using it.

#45. Laws of Human Nature

The first step toward becoming rational is to understand our fundamental irrationality. There are two factors that should render this more palatable to our egos: nobody is exempt from the irresistible effect of emotions on the mind, not even the wisest among us; and to some extent irrationality is a function of the structure of our brains and is wired into our very nature by the way we process emotions.

#46. Laws of UX

A key responsibility we have as designers is to ensure the interfaces we create augment human capabilities and experiences, and don’t distract from or deter them.

#47. Logic Made Easy

Negation is a fundamental con- cept in reasoning, a concept so basic to our everyday thinking that no known language is without its negative terms.

#48. Making sense of data

Bias can be introduced in situations where only those responding to the questionnaire are included in the survey since this group may not represent an unbiased random sample. The questionnaire should contain no leading questions, that is, questions that favor a particular response.

#49. Mapping Experiences

Value is a much richer, more dynamic concept than cost involving human behavior and emotions. Value is a perceived benefit.

#50. Methods in Behavioral Research

Determining cause and explaining behavior are particularly closely related because it is difficult ever to know the true cause or all the causes of any behavior.

Congratulations! You have scrolled half of the books. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter for more wisdom and discussions in the world of behavioural science.

#51. Mindful Design

What good, responsible design gives us is the luxury of cognitive headroom. By operating efficiently and simplifying complex tasks, an uncluttered interface puts
itself in the best position to be impactful when necessary.

#52. Neuroplasticity

Emotional triggers are related to the trauma of some sort. The trauma leaves marks on you that leave you reacting strongly to things that resemble or remind you of the traumatic event. For example, someone who was abused may be triggered by hearing something his or her abuser would frequently say, or someone with PTSD from war may be triggered by cars backfiring. Learning to understand what emotional triggers are is the first step toward learning how to correct them.

#53. Observing the user experience

Card sorting is primarily an organizational or naming technique, but you can also use it to understand how people prioritize features.

#54. Out of my skull

Boredom is the feeling we get when we want to engage our mental capacity but fail to do so, leaving our mind unoccupied. It’s well known that we feel our emotions, but we don’t often stop to consider that we also feel our thinking.

#55. Peak

If you talk to these extraordinary people, you find that they all understand this at one level or another. They may be unfamiliar with the concept of cognitive adaptability, but they seldom buy into the idea that they have reached the peak of their fields because they were the lucky winners of some genetic lottery. They know what is required to develop the extraordinary skills that they possess because they have experienced it firsthand.

#56. Principles of UX

The icing we want to add to our interfaces are things that make us smile and think, ‘hey they’ve gone that extra mile to make this design really cool’. It helps build a connection with our audience.

#57. Prototyping

Setting expectations is based on a psychological technique known as priming. When you prime your audience, you guide their attention and focus.

#58. Psychology for Designers

The biggest problem is that it pigeon-holes people into binary choices. Either extrovert or introvert. Thinking or feeling. Human behaviour is not that black or white. I'm introvert in the morning when I've just woken up and extrovert just after three cups of coffee.

#59. Putting the Humanities PhD to Work

Impact has a great deal to do with connection. As an emerging scholar, you learn how to draw connec- tions among people, movements, ideas, and more.

#60. Redirect

Once you understand this basic “law of the universe,” there are three simple steps to getting whatever you want: first, think about it—focus on the positive and not the negative. The second step is to believe in what you want and have faith that it will soon be yours. The third step is to receive the idea of having what you want, feeling as you will once you get it.

#61. Remote Research

Many people are still skeptical about remote research because it’s new. Some people believe you can’t get good results without seeing users’ faces.

#62. Rewire

Why we do things that hurt us remains one of the greatest mysteries of the human mind. It seems so contradictory; most of our actions are motivated by things that give us pleasure, pride, love, a sense of mastery. It’s called the pleasure principle, and it explains a great deal of human behavior. Why, then, do we sometimes do things that can be predicted to make us feel bad or get in the way of what we want?

#63. Science Fictions

Trying to correct for bias in science by injecting an equal and opposite dose of bias only compounds the problem, and potentially invites a vicious cycle of ever-increasing division between different ideological camps.

#64. Scientific Writing

Writing a good scientific article is as much an exercise in clear and focused thinking as it is in clear and accurate writing.

#65. Seeing what others don’t

Coincidences are chance concurrences that should be ignored except that every so often they provide us with an early warning about a new pattern.

#66. Seeking Wisdom

Dopamine is involved in the brain's reward and motivation system, and in addiction. High levels of dopamine are believed to increase feelings of pleasure and relieve pain.

#67. Sidetracked

The decisions that we expect we will make based on our finely developed plans are often different from how we actually behave. We get sidetracked.

#68. Six Circles

A person’s memory is more likey to recoganise elements than recall them so designs need to reflect this fact - Recognition over recall.

#69. Start with Why

There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.

#70. Storytelling in Design

Emotional storytelling also creates positive associations with the brand in question by linking positive images with the objective behind your marketing campaign. And last, marketing that involves emotional storytelling appeals to emotions instead of reason and gives the user an experience.

#71. Streetlights and Shadows

In complex settings in which we have to take the context into account, we can’t codify all the work in a set of procedures. No matter how comprehensive the procedures, people probably will run into some- thing unexpected and will have to use their judgment.

#72. Superintelligence

Much information is irrelevant to our goals; we can often rely on others’ skill and expertise; acquiring knowledge takes time and effort; we might intrinsically value certain kinds of ignorance; and we operate in an environment in which the ability to make strategic commitments, socially signal, and satisfy other people’s direct preferences over our own epistemic states is often more important to us than simple cognitive gains.

#73. Talking to Strangers

Why are we so bad at detecting lies? You’d think we’d be good at it. Logic says that it would be very useful for human beings to know when they are being deceived. Evolution, over many millions of years, should have favored people with the ability to pick up the subtle signs of deception. But it hasn’t.

#74. The Art of Logic

Emotions and logic do not have to be enemies. Logic works perfectly in the abstract mathematical world, but life is more complicated than that. Life involves humans, and humans have emotions.

#75. The Behavioural Science Annual

People never evolved to work in offices and factories; these environments and hazards are brand new. So we invented solutions that work with our hardwired perception, risk taking and emotional judgement.

#76. The Courage to be Disliked

But if you change your lifestyle—the way of giving meaning to the world and yourself—then both your way of interacting with the world and your behavior will have to change as well. Do not forget this point: One will have to change. You, just as you are, have to choose your lifestyle. It might seem hard, but it is really quite simple.

#77. The Elephant in the Brain

We can’t always take animal behavior at face value—that’s the main lesson to draw from the preceding examples. The surface-level logic of a behavior often belies deeper, more complex motives. And this is true even in species whose lives are much simpler than our own.

#78. The Intelligence Trap

Many cognitive scientists divide our thinking into two categories: ‘system 1’, intuitive, automatic, ‘fast thinking’ that may be prey to unconscious biases; and ‘system 2’, ‘slow’, more analytical, deliberative thinking. According to this view – called dual-process theory – many of our irrational decisions come when we rely too heavily on system 1, allowing those biases to muddy our judgement.

#79. The Person and the Situation

Why are people so much influenced by the attitudes and behavior of other people, even of other people whom they do not know and who have no control over their lives? Some of the most interesting theoretical work of the social sciences has centered on answering this question.

#80. The Power of Experiment

Sometimes you don’t have a hypothesis. In these cases, experiments can still help with fact finding to help you get a sense of what might be missing from existing frameworks.

#81. The Shared World

Perspective-taking is the ability to work out, by a feat of imagination, how things are from viewpoints, and for minds, that are not your own. It is the ability to construe a triangle, the dotted lines with soft italic letters that connect your own position, the position of your fellow perceiver, and the object of your interest. Once construed, your imagination can move between the corners of the triangle, shifting between your own standpoint and that of the fellow perceiver and fellow being.

#82. The Squiggly Career

Using your values as a decision-making filter means you’re less likely to be distracted by what we call ‘shiny objects’ like salaries, job titles or a swanky office. These things might give you short-term satisfaction but can’t compete with the opportunity to live your values at work.

#83. The User Experience Team of One

Sketching is an activity that should be familiar to pretty much all of humanity. It’s when you sit down with pen and paper and allow yourself to start drawing out your ideas.

#84. The user’s Journey

Neuroscientists have shown that when you listen to or watch a story, it’s as if you are experiencing the story in real time. As action rises, your pulse might quicken or your palms get sweaty. Something startles you, and you jump. Stories are not just about looking or listening, they are about being.

#85. The Shallows

Our ways of thinking, perceiving, and acting, we now know, are not entirely determined by our genes. Nor are they entirely determined by our childhood experiences. We change them through the way we live.

#86. Theory of Fun

Experts have been telling us for a while now that we’re not really “conscious” in the way that we think we are; we do most things on autopilot. But autopilot only works when we have a reasonably accurate picture of the world around us.

#87. Think Again

Reason thereby affects actions, because actions are based on motivations and emotions, and those motivations and emotions are shaped by beliefs and reasons.

#88. Think like a UX Researcher

Knowing something in your head is different from believ- ing something in your gut. This means it may take a while before they change your own behavior.

#89. Think like Einstein

The Gambler’s Fallacy is more so a fundamental misunderstanding of statistics and probability. And again, just like confusing correlation with causation, it’s an incredibly easy trap to fall into because it just seems to make sense. But that’s because we are thinking based on feelings and emotions, not based on the cold hard logic and facts.

#90. Thinking in Bets

Our brains evolved to create certainty and order. We are uncomfortable with the idea that luck plays a significant role in our lives. We recognize the existence of luck, but we resist the idea that, despite our best efforts, things might not work out the way we want.

#91. Thinking

We make decisions based on a bounded rationality, not the unbounded rationality of the decision maker modeled after an omniscient god. But bounded rationality is also not of one kind. There is a group of economists, for example, who look at the bounds or constraints in the environment that affect how a decision is made. This study is called “optimization under constraints,” and many Nobel prizes have been awarded in this area. Using the concept of bounded rationality from this perspective, you realize that an organism has neither unlimited resources nor unlimited time. So one asks, given these constraints, what’s the optimal solution?

#92. Thinking Fast and Slow

There are two ideas to keep in mind about Bayesian reasoning and how we tend to mess it up. The first is that base rates matter, even in the presence of evidence about the case at hand. This is often not intuitively obvious. The second is that intuitive impressions of the diagnosticity of evidence are often exaggerated.

#93. Thinking Mathematically

Our personal propensities are not easy to change. Such change will only come about by carefully and calmly observing them and not by heavy self-criticism. With practice, more and more emotional snapshots will be taken, awareness of your states will increase, and then, when in a particular moment there is also sufficient awareness, change will take place.

#94. Transcend

The more you continually open yourself to the world, however, the further your boat will go and the more you can benefit from the people and opportunities around you. And if you’re truly fortunate, you can even enter ecstatic moments of peak experience—where you are really catching the wind.

#95. Universal Principles of Design

People strive to have consistency among their attitudes, thoughts, and beliefs. Cognitive dissonance is the state of mental discomfort that occurs when a person’s attitudes, thoughts, or beliefs (i.e., cognitions) conflict. If two cognitions agree with one another, there is consonance, and a state of comfort results. If two cognitions disagree with one another, there is dissonance, and a state of discomfort results.

#96. Upstream

Upstream thinking is a new feature of our brains. There are only two areas of concern that seem to reliably trigger our upstream instincts: our kids and our teeth.

#97. User Story Mapping

The minimum viable solution is the smallest solution release that successfully achieves its desired outcomes. It is also the smallest thing you could create or do to prove or dis‐ prove an assumption.

#98. UX Strategy

Doing the right research, talking to the right kinds of folks, asking them the right kinds of questions, and observing the right kinds of behavior that can be analyzed and appropriately inform strategy and delivery .

#99. Validating Product Ideas

Exploring how people solve a problem today helps you come up with a great idea tomorrow, since the best predictor of future behavior is current behavior.

#100. What’s your Problem

Feeling frustrated isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s a normal part of the process. At first it might be annoying that you no longer have a “simple” view of the problem—but generally, that’s balanced out by the benefits of not solving the wrong problem.

One book is enough to change the career & life course. With this vision, hope you find the one book that will give you direction. Also please share this post with your friends who might be interested in behavioural science books.

PS: The more I am reading, the more I realise that the less I know. Nevertheless, if you want to do a discussion about any particular book or topic, please reach out to me via my email write.radhikadutt@gmail.com. This post is also listed on my personal website.


Exploring work values and choices during the career decision making

While I understand the impulse to scope the whole behavioural science degree and justify its subjects like 'Career Planning & Development', my view is that I am glad I took this course with a subconscious agenda of introspecting the design career path.

According to this subject, it provided answers to questions like:

Why I behave in a certain way on the job? Why I have left the coding background and leapt faith in design and behavioural sciences?

Though I concede that career decision-making is the subgroup of decision-making under cognitive sciences, I still maintain that this subject has a lot of applications in our work-life. For example, career based on personality types, deciding career goals and paths, how to successfully navigate through different organizational political terrains.

Although some might advise that while deciding careers, availability of opportunities combined with financial backup is important, I would reply that the important thing to remember while considering career planning or growth is to start with basics which is - Work Values. The issue is important because poor decisions in career rob people a lot of time, energy and happiness and if we get a bit of timely advice or basic rules we may save this time and build a career in which we can grow.

The standard way of thinking about work values has it that values are behaviours that you show from childhood. It is deeply ingrained in identity. Many people assume that it is about having confidence, responsibility, professionalism, integrity or loyalty to a company etc. Conventional wisdom has it that there are about 14 work values and there are standardized scales to measure it. It is often said that knowing these work values can help one become a happier person in the workplace. At the same time that I believe it is a consistent mindset in which you work, I also believe that this mindset is a result of idiosyncrasies and the interaction with the environment.

In conclusion, then, as I suggested earlier, by knowing the work ethics, once can discover oneself and apply that to find or grow in the career.

The point will become clearer by recalling a time during work when core values conflicted with the expectation from the company or the boss. I recall one incident of mine. While working as a Product Designer for a startup, my responsibility was to re-design some interface or one global feature. During the user research phase, by conducting a competitor analysis, I was critically evaluating the competitor's unique selling points within a tight deadline. Several UX designers have suggested that every time designing new icons or interactions take up a lot of memory resources of users. This is known as cognitive load. So it has become common today to reuse or design global elements.

In my decision, that element was a universal or global so their affordability and look and feel should be universal to minimize the cognitive load so that users don't always have to learn new elements every time. Whereas some team members were convinced about the design, others maintained that the design should be original and new. They themselves were not able to articulate and responded in disagreement that they did not like the solution. They further rationalized by saying - "It's not looking good. Nobody in the industry does that". But I had seen myself that some competitors have already implemented that solution. I disagreed with some team members because their response was not objective and feedback was not providing options for the improvement.

By focusing on the look and feel of the elements, they were overlooking the affordance and utility. My feelings on the issue were mixed. One side I was the designer and advocating the user needs and another side I had to resolve the dilapidated communication between the team members. The environment had become a bit of sentimental as a contrast to being professional. Startups can sometimes afford these kinds of work environments and I felt quite neutral and mixed about the situation when I look back.

My view today is on contrary to what I had responded then is that I should have been more vocal and affirmative about things. But it's easier to look back and wish we should have done something else. Anyone familiar with video game Max Payne's in-game quotation or Netflix's Black Mirror episode Bandersnatch should agree that choices are just an illusion.

I will quote Max Payne here:

There are no choices. Nothing but a straight line. The Illusion comes afterwards when you ask 'Why me?' and 'What if?'

When you look back, see the branches, like a pruned bonsai tree, or forked lightning.

If you had done something differently, it wouldn't be you. It would be someone else looking back, asking a different set of questions.

So you do what you have to do. Responding according to the emotions, environment, mind, gut-feelings is arguably the most significant factor in behaving like a designer. And there are times when you do not speak up and act to resolve the conflict.

Conventional wisdom has it that it's an art when to speak and when we should not.

Robert Greene, the author of 'The Laws of human nature' also dictate that it's not advisable to always speak up your mind. One implication of remaining silent is that it shows a lack of assertiveness and people may take you as a docile person. I refrain from speaking up when I don't know the whole context or the knowledge about the topic or the situation.

The idea is to be satisfied and happy with every decision you make and communication happens when its given time and space.

I take my own time and space to think and process. When it comes to the topic of learning your own work ethics, most of us will readily agree that reflections come after work experience. But we can learn about personality traits and disposition before work by extensively taking tests like the work value test. I myself took these online available tests and I found these as accurate. For example, I scored high on creativity, performance, financial rewards and work-life balance.

It is suggested to take the test as it will in self-introspection because when we truly reflect on what matters to us the most, who we are, how can we grow, what habits to acquire, what to unlearn then only we realize we are on a right career path.


Work Values Test | Free Work Value Assessment Test at 123test.Com. https://www.123test.com/work-values-test/. Accessed 5 Oct. 2020.

“Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (Video Game 2003).” IMDb, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0366758/characters/nm0564548. Accessed 5 Oct. 2020.

Greene, R. (2018). The laws of human nature. Viking.

Dear design - it's all about psychology and behavioural science.

Behavioural Science meets Design. How Behaviour Science Will Pave The Path To Better UX.

In discussions of whether UX can be learned, a controversial issue is whether we should attend design schools or not. While some argue that it can be taught and learned within a few months, others contend that practising design is the only way. This is not to say that enthusiasts can't start their design journey, it’s just that it reminds me of my own design journey and beyond.

New designers celebrate the journey of quick prototyping and making beautiful interfaces on screen. I admit I have also enjoyed this path for a long time. But my processes disrupted once I started interacting with real people, other than user personas. They had bigger concerns.

They were okay being the interface looking pretty but in the end, they wanted their problems to be solved.

I had to re-skill and learn new ways of learning this art. When it comes to how to actually implement these skills in design, our current thought leaders in design doesn't have much say about it. Nevertheless, I started following a few designers on twitter who had a background in psychology as I wanted to understand how designers should think, what they are breathing, eating and studying.

The pattern started to emerge and I observed the difference. For most of the designers, it has become common today to conveniently exclude minor or outlier use cases in design. Many designers surrender themselves to the stakeholder requirements. While I understand the impulse to satisfy the company's needs, my own view is we designers should be the advocates of users.

But who really cares? Who besides me and a handful of designers and user researchers has a stake in these claims?

At the very least, the designers who formerly believed in the concept of empathy or designers who have exposure to psychology should care. For instance, while designing the productivity, to-do or habit or meditation application we can really empathize with the user.

Although some readers may object that diving deep for the users will not pay the businesses, I would answer that we can inculcate this attribute in gradual steps throughout the career. Ultimately, then, my goal is to demonstrate how we can humanize the design with the help of behavioural psychology since I believe this field is itself larger than a Hook or COM-B model.

Those unfamiliar with this school of thought may be interested to know that it basically boils down to understanding you as a human first. Turning inwards would lead us to the world of psychology. We would understand user more if we understand we as designers are humans as well.

Impossible, some will say. They will say it is very difficult to imbibe psychology in design or it may only happen in theories. Then, I would defend that there are some active organizations and companies who are already working in this direction. They work with nudge units and influence the decisions of the user in a productive and ethical way. One such company is Center for Humane Technology. The latest Netflix film Social Dilemma explains how social media harms our mental health, relationships, and democracy.

This interpretation challenges the work of those designers who have long assumed that design is all about making rectangles and buttons on the screen.

When a designer has the knowledge of how the mind works, he or she has the power of designing empathetic user experiences. Ultimately, we understand that the well-designed products do have the power to change the narrative which focuses on growth and change.

In conclusion, I emphasize that we will be ready to enter the world of Behavioural Science when we will truly understand how psychology and design field relate to each other; a well-established world of its own which has taken wisdom from various fields such as economics, psychology, neuroscience, and marketing.


Center for humane technology. (n.d.). Retrieved October 6, 2020, from https://www.humanetech.com/

Loading more posts…