Sunday, March 15, 2009

ID FMP: Modes of Cognition

Cognition [define] encompasses a wide range of processes related to thinking, sensing, interpreting, evaluating, decision-making, remembering and communicating. It is important for designers to understand human cognition processes in order to design systems that are easy to learn, effective, efficient, pleasurable, and meaningful.

Here, I will first distinguish between two main modes of cognition. In my next post I will identify different categories of cognitive processes. The value of these distinctions is that different modes and types of cognition call for different technology and interaction solutions. It is important to note that both cognitive modes and multiple processes are always active simultaneously.

The focus of this, and my next, post is to explore the scope of cognition. In other words, the question being answered here is “what is cognition? And what are the main cognitive activities?” I will cover models that attempt to illustrate how cognition works at a later time; at which point the question I will address is “how does cognition function?”

The two modes of cognition identified by Don Norman are the experiential and reflective modes. Both of these are essential to human beings, and are continuously used in everyday life often in an overlapping manner. The description below and attached diagram aim to illustrate the main characteristics of each of each modes.
  • Experiential: state-of-mind associated to perception of the environment around us, and to our engagement with that environment through our actions and reactions. Contexts where an experiential mode of cognition is used include when a person is having a conversation, driving a car, or reading a book.
  • Reflective: state-of-mind associated to higher-level processing of knowledge, memory, and external information (or stimuli) through thinking, comparing, and judging. This type of cognition is needed for people to learn, create ideas, design products, and write books.
[source: Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction; Don Norman's book and Things That Make Us Smart.]

** What the hell is ID FMP? **

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