I wrote last week about the problems with Myers Briggs personality tests, specifically when it comes to Extroversion and Introversion.

This study couldn’t be timely.

Move Over Extroverts, Here Come the Ambiverts

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Just some pretty brain pictures because I can. neuroimages:

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Neural Decoding of Visual Imagery During Sleep

You might have seen this on the news.

What does it mean for us designers? Well simply put we can associate brain activity with simply shapes. Previously this has only been done when someone is looking at shape or thinking about shape.

The key term in the abstract is ‘predict’. If you’ve read my book you’d know that being able to predict behaviour means we can design for behaviour.

Scientists can now look at a brain and predict what is being perceived. it’ll help us get valuable insights into our designs.

Neural Decoding of Visual Imagery During Sleep

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I talk in Psychology for Designers about the tension between art and science in design and how 99% of the time the science backs up the art.

The poet Goethe described the psychology of colour two hundred years ago only for science to come to eventually come to the same conclusions hundreds of years later.

He describes Green as:

The eye experiences a distinctly grateful impression from this colour. If the two elementary colours are mixed in perfect equality so that neither predominates, the eye and the mind repose on the result of this junction as upon a simple colour. The beholder has neither the wish nor the power to imagine a state beyond it. Hence for rooms to live in constantly, the green colour is most generally selected.

Read more of his musings at Goethe on the Psychology of Colour and Emotion on the wonderful Brain Pickings.

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Popular neuroscience myths / or why we shouldn’t beleive everything we read about the brain

Some great insights, particularly around folk psychology from the Guardian.

FOLK NEUROSCIENCE Popular misconceptions

■ The “left-brain” is rational, the “right-brain” is creative
The hemispheres have different specialisations (the left usually has key language areas, for example) but there is no clear rational-creative split and you need both hemispheres to be successful at either. You can no more do right-brain thinking than you can do rear-brain thinking.

■ Dopamine is a pleasure chemical
Dopamine has many functions in the brain, from supporting concentration to regulating the production of breast milk. Even in its most closely associated functioning it is usually considered to be involved in motivation (wanting) rather than the feeling of pleasure itself.

■ Low serotonin causes depression
A concept almost entirely promoted by pharmaceutical companies in the 1980s and 90s to sell serotonin-enhancing drugs like Prozac. No consistent evidence for it.

■ Video games, TV violence, porn or any other social spectre of the moment “rewires the brain”
Everything “rewires the brain” as the brain works by making and remaking connections. This is often used in a contradictory fashion to suggest that the brain is both particularly susceptible to change but once changed, can’t change back.

■ We have no control over our brain but we can control our mind
The mind and the brain are the same thing described in different ways and they make us who we are. Trying to suggest one causes the other is like saying wetness causes water.

I’ve written here about the left brain/right brain myth.


Psychologist Cliodhna O’Connor and her colleagues investigated how brain science was reported across 10 years of newspaper coverage. Rather than reporting on evidence that most challenged pre-existing opinions, of which there is a great deal, neuroscience was typically cited as a form of “biological proof” to support the biases of the author.

We should beware of these folk psychology truths. Read more from the Guardian article.
Popular neuroscience myths / or why we shouldn’t beleive everything we read about the brain

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A wonderful essay on design (that touches on psychology)

Make yourself a nice cup of tea and spend 15 minutes reading Learning to see by iA.

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The Sneaky Psychology Of Advertising

I have issues with the dark side of applied psychology in design. I’ve written and spoken about it at length.

I have one rule: design to make people’s lives better. I expand on this in the book and offer an approach to help everyone set their own boundaries when it comes to design and ethics.

From The Sneaky Psychology Of Advertising

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Going from free to paid is unforgivable

There’s a message in here for internet businesses.

During World War II the Red Cross gave free coffee and donuts to US soldiers.

Then in 1942 they started charging for the donuts. It created bad feeling that has lasted 70 years despite offering backing down and offering the donuts for free.

The Cost Of Free Doughnuts: 70 Years Of Regret from NPR radio.

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If you’ve read the book you know I’ve been interested in the science of body language for many years.

This video documentary (1.5 hours so make your self an nice cup of tea) gives a good overview of the psychology behind body language.

Body language is a good place to start when trying to apply psychology to life. It’s good practice for us designers to try this stuff in the real world before try it with our designs.

Secrets of Body Language on YouTube)

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Nothing Personal: The questionable Myers-Briggs test

I’ve always had issue with Myers Briggs and this article from the Guardian rightly critiques the test.

There is very little science behind MB. In fact it was developed by two non experts, the Guardian describes them as ‘Housewives’. It doesn’t strand up to scientific rigour. That,in mind makes it dangerous.

The biggest and most profound problem with Myers Briggs is the basic premise we are one thing or another. There is no grey between the black and white.


If you meet me in a professional setting I might come across as extrovert, in a social situation I can be an introvert.

I have a degree in Neuroscience, I’m a thinker, yet in my job within UX I have to empathise, I would be terrible at my job if I didn’t feel.

I’ve had to take the Myers Brigss test before as part of a job interview. I didn’t get the job because of the “contradictions” present within the flawed test.

All the Myers Briggs test does is foster labels and labelling. Yes it can help individuals come to terms with themselves but to be used within an organisation is at best mistaken and it’s worst can label a person something they are not.

Myers Briggs is flawed, let’s stop encouraging it’s use.

Nothing Personal: The questionable Myers-Briggs test

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