alexandtheweb / blog

The experiencing self battles the remembering self

I’m a bit embarrassed that I had not heard about Daniel Kahneman and behavioural economics until I read Effie Lei-Chong Law’s article on the measurability and predictability of user experience. I dug up Daniel’s fantastic TED talk and finally understood why, at this year’s dConstruct conference, Don Norman spoke about designing memories rather than experiences.

Kahneman explains the vast gulf that exists between the experiencing and the remembering selves, and notes that the remembering self dominates – not only by choosing what and how to remember experiences, but also by acting as a force behind decisions about the future. The implications of this for product design and user experience research seem, at least superficially, two-fold:

  • How the user recalls her interaction with an interface will likely be shaped by whether that interface told a memorable story;
  • User studies must appreciate that relying purely on observing a user’s interaction with a UI or a product will not account for what she will take away from it – or how she will recall her experience with it.