Just like Jonathan, I was most intrigued by Norman’s passage on the three levels of processing after read his book, “emotional design: why we love or hate everyday things”.
He mapped the three levels to produce characteristics as following:
Visceral Design: Appearance
Behavioral Design: The pleasure and effectiveness of use
Reflective Design: Self-image, personal satisfaction and memories
Here, the visceral level is an automatic layer of our brain, which can be biologically determined. “Behavioral level” refers to the part that contains the brain processes that control our behaviors. Reflective layer is considered as the highest layer of our cognition, which watches over, reflects upon and tries to bias the behavioral level. According to Norman, “each level plays a different role in the total functioning of people and each level requires a different style of design.”
This analysis took me back to a visual installation I saw recently at Newark Liberty airport.
Libby, named after the airport, is a computerized image projected onto Plexiglas. It has been installed at Terminal B to greet travellers and acts as a customer service rep. It is interesting to see how people interact with Libby.
“She’s friendly and approachable.”
“It’s a little bit freaky when you walk down there. Her body doesn’t look real but her head does.”
“I think it’s weird”
“She has a pleasant smile.”
“Alright, that was just scary. I thought it was a real person.”
“It’s really odd the way her eyes follow you. It’s really odd.”
Just as Norman stated, there is no single design will satisfy everyone. From the visceral level, Libby is young, smiling, wearing a red jacket, and speaking slowly and clearly, which gives rise to positive emotions in human brain. From the behavior level, Libby is designed to act as a customer service rep to answer travellers frequently questions such as how to move from one terminal to another, where to get a cab… However, since she runs a 90-second loop of information and cannot really interact with people, the usability is quite low. From the reflective level, some people accept Libby as an interesting innovation and would like to see more similar Avatars around; others blamed the airport companies getting cheaper and cheaper – trying to reduce their labor expenses by installing these creepy machines…From my view, I feel it’s a good attempt to integrate high-tech into the navigation system at airports. However, instead of working as a screen yakking at people, Libby can be reprogrammed to understand peoples’ questions and to reply with appropriate answers.