My Focus = Psychology + Innovation

[This page needs some serious updating. I think I will have time over winter break.]

When it comes to industry work, I seek to leverage my strongest area: the overlap of psychology and innovation. In other words, I’m most interested in projects that combine the skills of a psychologist with the ability to innovate. This approach has led to new products and patents.

Combining psychology and innovation also helped me early on as a graduate student in the 1990s to create a new academic area: persuasive technology. Today, persuasive tech is a global topic for research and design.

Below I list my current areas of expertise. Note how each area combines psychology and innovation. That’s my sweet spot. Also, note how each area helps people create things that improve our lives. That’s my bias.

My Areas of Expertise

Persuasive Technology

  • Persuasive Technology is my book explaining this new area.
  • My focus now: persuading people via social media & social networks.
  • My research shows how to build web credibility and trust online.
  • I’ve long been interested in using mobile phones to change behavior.
Making Psychology Easier to Understand
  • We humans are rather predictable. Just a few things drive behavior.
  • The way we interpret context makes humans seem complex.
  • I create one-page frameworks that explain aspects of psychology.
  • My goal is to teach industry innovators to think like psychologists.
Automating Behavior Change
  • I outline the 15 types of behavior change.
  • My Behavior Model shows how three elements work together to create change.
  • I explain the concept of “hot triggers,” and why this is the key to forming habits.
Designing for Simplicity
  • Simplicity is not mysterious. My research shows it has six dimensions.
  • I’ve created frameworks to help people think clearly about simplicity.
  • Simplicity can be quantified; it can be tested and measured.
  • My tools help people achieve simplicity in products & services.
Measuring to Improve Product Design
  • First step in measuring: Identify key behavior goals for your product.
  • Next: Create simple tools and methods to measure key goals.
  • My bias: Teams should never argue about design. Just measure it.

In case you’re interested . . .

Why does “making psych simple” matter to me?

When I teach innovators to think like psychologists, I help them succeed faster. The frameworks I create guide innovation teams in thinking clearly about what makes humans tick. My one-pagers give these teams a shared point of view and concrete language for fuzzy psychological issues, like trust, delight, or simplicity. This makes communication more efficient. Then, when they design and test product innovations, the teams are more likely to select good options. This makes the innovation cycle more efficient.

Why does simplicity matter to me?
My insights into simplicity come from years of studying how to change people’s behaviors. I learned that if a target behavior (such as donating money online) is not simple enough, many people won’t do it. More and more, we’re becoming a “one-click” culture; we want to get things done in one step. We humans often give up on complicated tasks. So in today’s world, I believe simplicity is the most important quality in designing successful products and services.

Why does measurement matter to me?
I love measuring stuff! I always have, even when I was a child. Today, our measurement tools are getting simpler and more powerful. That’s exciting to me. An ordinary person can learn to test and measure many outcomes. The data can guide future decisions. When it comes to designing products or services, I think it’s foolish to guess on any aspect of design. Instead, use testing and measurement as a guide. I believe the future of persuasive technology (and most any consumer experience) is all about measurement.