Got Ergopsychonomics?

Apparently ergopyschonomics is the buzzword of 2012. Or psychonomics. The jury is still out.

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In the BrandRepublic post ‘Forget Behavioural Economics, now it’s Ergopsychonomics’ Chris Arnold  makes a portmanteau of ergonomics and pyschology as a means to talk about the connection between the objects we use and how to think about them. Yet, one poster challenges Arnold: why can’t we just call this HCI?

Meanwhile, over at Fastcodesign, Tucker Veirmeister uses the word psychonomics to say the same thing. Still, as commenters point out, the word is hardly new as it’s been in use by psychologists since 1959.

I’d say the lesson to come out of this is that when it comes to making up words, with great power comes great responsibility. Last year we started hearing the word skeuomorphic a lot in regards to unnecessarily analogue iPad apps. However, the term is well established and hasn’t changed . On the other hand, Don Norman conflating JJ Gibson’s ‘perceived affordances’ with ‘affordances’ has caused confusion that he’s spent the following decades ironing out. And gamification is not the same as badgeification (as even the head of Zynga points out).

Vicky Teinaki

An England-based Kiwi, Vicky is doing a PhD at Northumbria University into how designers can better talk about touch and products. When not researching or keeping Johnny Holland running, she does the odd bit of web development, pretends her TV licence money goes only to Steven Moffatt shows, and tweets prolifically about all of the above as @vickytnz.

2 comments on this article

  1. Mark Parnell on

    William Gibson? Surely James! Moreover, Gibson didn’t (IIRC) call them perceived affordances; rather, his conception of affordances is that they were something that actually existed as a property of objects that existed independent of our ability to perceive them. As such, we can say that screen elements have Gibsonian affordances . Neither Gibson’s nor Norman’s concept of affordances is necessarily correct, so I don’t felel the term was overextended in its use.

    Agree that Ergopsychonomics is a pretty awful term however, and has the putrid stink of marketing BS about it.

  2. @Mark: *JJ Gibson* oops, I knew that, amended ;)
    I think the greatest problem with Norman’s approach is that we now get people saying “what’s its affordance?” which is wrong. I’m a bit rusty on all of my MP and Gibson though, but it’s taked about in detail by Hubert Dreyfus etc and the gestalt psychologists.