week 8 – reading response

I think it’s especially interesting how wide the breadth of psychology, which is profoundly underpinned by Norman’s “Emotion and Design: Attractive Things Work Better”, really is. Norman’s emphasis on emotions highlights the significance of aesthetics in enhancing user functionality, and this is all the more important to note is since such a concept really challenges the conventional belief that aesthetics should take a backseat to functionality in design. Her specific delineation regarding affect, aesthetics and functionality makes sense and the reason why it was illuminating was because this wasn’t something I consciously and actively thought about when handling a product. It’s completely natural for positive affect to increase tolerance for minor flaws in user functionality because we are in a more forgiving headspace for such a situation. However, negative affects eliminate this state of mind, hence it makes more sense to prioritise user functionality over aesthetics in products that warrant negative affects.
This same concept can be applied to Margaret Hamilton’s groundbreaking work as exemplified in the second reading whereby it highlights the clear intersection between psychology and user functionality in high-stake situations. Her meticulous software development for the Apollo mission integrated rigorous testing and fault tolerance to ensure usability under extreme conditions i.e., conditions that are prone to evoking negative affects. This ultimately aligns with the psychological principles discussed in Norman’s text, illustrating that the design of critical systems must consider users’ emotional states and its subsequent impact on usability.

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