Amal M

13 November 2023

What Motivates Users? Psychological Principles and Cognitive Biases that Affect User Behavior - Part 1

What Motivates Users? Psychological Principles and Cognitive Biases that Affect User Behavior - Part 1

Understanding user behavior is crucial in creating exceptional products with intuitive design experiences. It's essential to consider user psychology and cognitive biases while defining solutions. Here, we explore some principles and biases that impact user behavior.

Goal Gradient Effect

As individuals approach a goal, their motivation increases.

  • Intensified Desire Near Completion: People's desire intensifies as they near their goal, peaking when it's almost achieved. This is often leveraged in loyalty programs, where rewards become more appealing as one gets closer to them.
  • Perceived Progress and Desire: Even a sense of progress boosts the desire for completion. Visual cues like progress bars can significantly enhance this effect.

Zeigarnik Effect

People remember unfinished or interrupted tasks better than completed ones.

  • Progress Indicators: To motivate users, show clear signs of their progress. This can be done through checklists or completion meters.
  • Illusion of Progress: Even an illusion of progress can motivate users to complete a task. Incomplete status indicators can trigger a desire to complete.

Curiosity Gap

This arises from a gap in information or knowledge, fueling a desire to seek answers.

  • Ease of Access: Simplifying access to information increases information-seeking behavior. This principle is key in designing engaging content and interactive interfaces.
  • Unpredictable Information: Unpredictable information delivery heightens addiction to information seeking. This is often seen in how people engage with social media feeds or news updates.

Endowment Effect

Ownership increases the perceived value of an item.

  • Value of Ownership: Items are valued more once considered as personal possessions. This effect can be used in customization features of products.
  • Emotional and Experiential Value: This effect is strong with items that have emotional significance or provide experiences. Products or services that evoke personal attachment are often more valued.

Anchoring Bias

Initial information significantly influences subsequent judgments.

  • Influence of Irrelevant Anchors: The anchoring effect can be significant even if the initial information is unrelated to the decision. This can impact pricing strategies and first impressions.
  • Impact of Initial Information: Early information received shapes later judgments. Marketers and designers use this by strategically placing initial information to sway decisions.

Understanding these psychological underpinnings can greatly enhance user experience design. By recognizing these biases and leveraging them, designers and product developers can create more engaging, intuitive, and effective products. Stay tuned for more insights in future parts of this series.