I recently conducted a project for my Design Theory class on the book Designing with the Mind in Mind : Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Guidelines by Jeff Johnson. I chose to do my project on chapter one. Chapter one discusses Perception Bias and how this affects our everyday thought process and design. It focuses on ways our brain is influenced by our past, present, and future when reacting to stimuli. This impacts how we see images and designs. I think the most interesting fact about chapter one was how easily our brains can be manipulated. When talking about perceptual priming, our brains only see what they want to.
To represent this theory, I chose to create a Google form that asked questions based on speculation and social norms. My form consists of five photos of celebrities including Jeremy Renner (actor), Sam Mewis (professional soccer player), and Jerry Springer (Talk Show Host). Each picture is paired with a question that can only be answered by looking at the celebrities physique, race, or gender.
At the Start:
When creating this project I wanted to make something that would show others how unreliable our brains can be due to stereotypes and what we have been taught to see. However, this was easier said than done. I didn’t want to make up fake characters because I felt like that wouldn’t get my point across. However, using celebrities is hard because the public eye tends to know a bit too much about them. I needed these facts to be hard to guess.
The next problem I had was deciding how my questions would be asked. My first draft didn’t work too well because I found the questions made the audience assume the quiz was a trivia game. This is when I went back and made it clear the questions should be guesses made purely on first impressions and what you see visually.
After the Fact:
Looking at the results, almost every question answered was incorrect. Everyone I interviewed chose to pick answers that were stereotypical. For example, everyone thought Jeremy Renner was previously a bartender. They never considered he could be a makeup artist because he was a male. To add to that, I found everyone in the interviews knew deep down that their answers were probably wrong but they felt the stereotypical answer was still the one they should choose. This makes me wonder how much our brains are actually primed.
Overall, each interview proved my theory that our brain is affected by our past, present, and future stimuli. Society has created particular images and we have learned to recognize them. This means when designing for clients or companies in the future we need to remember that there are multiple points of view. We should gather all the information we can before assuming something about a particular demographic.