Usability Terminology

Cognitive Dissonance-an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. The “ideas” or “cognitions” in question may include attitudes and beliefs, the awareness of one’s behavior, and facts.

Cognitive Friction-This occurs when something you’re trying to understand is not immediately obvious to you. So, say you get into an elevator to go to the 18th floor and you spot the button for the 17th floor. So you think “18’s above 17 so I’ll look right above 17” and you find the button for the 22nd floor. Now you get cognitive friction because what you’re finding is not what you expected to find and you have to start analyzing the situation to determine how to find the button for the 18th floor.

Collectively Exhaustive-A set of alternatives is collectively exhaustive when, taken together, they include all possibilities.

Heuristics-a commonsense rule (or set of rules) intended to increase the probability of solving some problem.

Mutually Exclusive-Each option is distinct from all other options.  Describing two events, conditions, or variables which cannot occur at once. For example, subjects in a study cannot be both female and male, HIV positive and HIV negative, pregnant and not pregnant, for those are mutually exclusive categories.

Regain Mental Context-This occurs when you’re working on something (like a computer program) and you get interrupted. After taking care of the interruption you have to regain your mental context, i.e. clear your mind of what you had to think about to take care of the interruption and then recall everything you were thinking about to get back into your work. A metaphor for programmers would be that you have to clear and reload your registers.

One Response to “Terminology”

  1. Teresa says:

    Just a little edit–

    Cognitive Friction-This occurs when you (delete) something you’re…

    Also, check the definitions of Collectively Exhaustive & Mutually Exclusive–aren’t they reversed?

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