Editorial: Conditioning in Appliance Design
Ivan Petrovich Pavlov was a Russian physiologist of the late 19th to early 20th centuries, most renowned for developing the concept of the conditioned reflex, or classical conditioning. While studying the physiology of digestion in dogs, Pavlov noticed that his subjects not only salivated when presented their food, but also salivated merely in the presence of the technicians who normally fed them.
From this observation, Pavlov predicted that any stimulus present when the dog was fed would promote the same response as the sight of their food providers. In his most famous experiment, Pavlov “used a bell to call the dogs to their food and, after a few repetitions, the dogs started to salivate in response to the bell.”
As this conditioning persisted, the response of the dogs would become stronger and stronger. Further, the dogs would continue to salivate at just the sound of the bell, without being presented with food, however this did not last long and led to the concept of extinction in which, after sometime of not being presented with food at the sound of a bell, the dogs would no longer salivate at the sound of the bell.
Pavlov’s theories may explain why the display and interface sector of the appliance industry is constantly looking for new ways to “stimulate” and appeal to end-users, utilizing the concept of Haptics. Haptics, or tactile feedback, “is the response felt when clicking a switch, turning a knob or pressing a button.”
According to Steve Kingsley-Jones, “the advent of touch controls—capacitive, resistive, or even pressure sensing—has led to dynamic, engaging interfaces, but lost the realism that people expect from the physical world. The sense of touch is important to the overall usability and intuitiveness of an interface. Interfaces that use tactile feedback increase the user’s confidence that the interface is responding as expected. By incorporating tactile feedback into a well designed interface, a designer can reduce confusion and frustration.”
For more on the role haptics play in design, check out Steve’s article, “Haptics Continue to Advance,” in the pages of this month’s applianceDESIGN.
Enjoy and thanks for reading!