Behavioral Economics and Design

In the 21st century, the toolkit of the modern designer is rapidly expanding. Design practice is maturing, and what was once a focus on aesthetics and usability is broadening to incorporate interdisciplinary knowledge from a variety of fields like behavioral economics and cognitive psychology. These disciplines shed light on the factors that impact human decision-making and motivate our behaviors.

“We’re becoming increasingly aware of the fact that regardless of the type of design challenge we work on, all of the decisions we make on a given project have the potential to influence human behavior – whether we intended them to or not.”
Nikki Pffar, Researcher

As we outlined in our 21st Century Design paper, the toolkit of the modern designer is rapidly expanding. Design practice is maturing, and what was once a focus on aesthetics and usability is broadening to incorporate interdisciplinary knowledge from a variety of fields like behavioral economics and cognitive psychology.  These disciplines shed light on the factors that impact human decision-making and motivate our behaviors.

Knowledge from these fields can help us better understand why people behave the way they do, help us design to reinforce or change that behavior, and help us make more informed predictions about how people will behave when faced with new decisions in the future.

The video above introduces some of the principles and tips we’ve uncovered along the way and continues work that I’ve done previously on behavioral economics and human-centered design while earning my Masters. My interest in this topic is driven by a desire to better understand human behavior, and to design products and services that facilitate better decision-making.

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