New ideas from psychology are hardly reaching HCI

A few decades ago, there was a rapid influx of new ideas from psychology into HCI. There was Don Norman, Stuart Card, Kent Norman and many others who brought in new ideas and theories which were adopted and prospered in the field. Since then there has been few new, signifcant ideas brought in from psychology into HCI. Moreover, much of the impact of psychology has been on evaluation, rather than on the design process.

This bothers me. First because Psychology has evolved dramatically in the last decade or so. One of the exciting directions has been the how biological the field is becoming. Ten years ago, there was no field of Social Neuroscience (defined as the study of brain systems involved in social interaction). Now the Google query returns a respectable number of results. There there is an evolving field of Neuroeconomics and a second conference on neuroeconomics. Neuromarketing is beginning to be talked about as well (I suspect thats more marketing than anything else right now).

And hardly a peep about this in HCI. Its like the HCI psychology folk have collective amnesia for research in the 10-15 years that has formed the core for people who graduated from Psychology not too long ago (I graduated in 1998 and left Psychology in 2000). Hard to sum up what has happened in those years. But suffice to say that we understand perception, memory, sensation, emotion, decision making a lot better. We understand better how these processses work in the brain, how networks of areas are recruited for each process.

I predict (and hope) that in less than ten years there will be a field of neurodesign. What if this does not happen. Well, if other fields start incorporating this new found knowledge about how people think and design does not, that does not bode well for the field.

My second point is this post was about the impact of psychology on evaluation versus on design and design research. More about that in another post.