Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Can Psychology help Framework Designs?

There is a continuum of component sets (i.e. frameworks) that range between "simple" sets containing fewer more universal components versus "complex" sets containing more specialized components.  For example, compare old school Lego pieces that were generic shapes that built anything, versus new style Legos that build only one particular type of Jedi Starfighter.

These frameworks tend to not integrate very well with other frameworks. It is simpler to pick one as a standard, but how does it affect those that prefer the one not picked? What is the overall cost/benefit of picking one vs the other [vs not picking one at all, and doing the more complicated work of supporting both]?

It would be interesting to perform a series of psych experiments to determine whether people have clear preferences between simple vs complex component sets and how well they can adapt to their non-preferred choice.  Also, do the choices change based on time pressure, organization, documentation of the sets, appropriateness of the components to the overall goal?

For example...
*) - Ask people to build a "plane" from the provided components.
Let people pick between a simple vs complex set of components (e.g. specialized legos vs generic tinkertoys). Measure time taken, and "quality" of result (both self evaluation and objective third party evaluation), and "how well they liked it" i.e. "how fun was it" i.e. "would they like to do another one". Compare the success and quality rates overall for simple vs complex when used by those preferring each.
1) variation: mixed pile of components
2) variation: pile of mixed simple and separate pile of mixed complex
3) variation: organized piles
4) variation: various time limits
5) variation: make complex parts clearly "plane related"
6) variation: make complex parts clearly unrelated to overall goal

*) - Ask people to build another goal object, but require them to use the opposite of their preference in the first test. Compare measurements to those of when using their preferred components.  Use similar variations to above (especially for various time limits). Compare the success/quality rates of simple vs complex overall when used by those not preferring it.

Overall goals: determine whether:
1) success rate is significantly different between simple vs complex
2) quality rate is significantly different between simple vs complex
3) time taken is significantly different between simple vs complex
4) do people have strong preferences vs weak (what is the distribution each)
5) are people more able to use either simple or complex better when it is not preferred

*) i.e. can one pick simple vs complex as a standard or must both be avail and integrated with each other??

Another variation to try is having the simple and complex component sets be compatible with each other (as opposed to the previous example of special-legos/tinkertoys that can not be used together). E.G. generic legos vs specialized legos. Goal: see if the choices made between simple/complex are as strong and the effects of the choices as strong when there is less of a consequence to starting with one set or the other.

Also, add variations to previous experiments that vary the size of the "simple" set and the "complex" set and see what the size boundaries are to these categories. See what the performance curve is when graphed against set size for the various categories of people.

No comments: