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AI Would Agree: ‘How to Make Friends and Influence People’ with Behavioural Scientist & Designer, Babs Crane


Some of the key factors behind behavioural design and when the morality of it comes into question

AI Would Agree is MOJO-CX©’s weekly webinar hosted by our Senior Solutions Consultant, Paul Banks. We bring in guests from across the contact centre and software industry to discuss their experiences and opinions on hot topics.

In this episode of AI Would Agree, Paul was joined by Behavioural Scientist & Designer, Babs Crane to discuss how human psychology is frequently used to provide a better experience for both customers and employees. Through clever design areas such as ease of use and overall satisfaction can be massively improved for everyone involved.

Behavioural Design 101: Bouba & Kiki

The visual design of something will always generate a psychological response from a person which manifests as emotions and opinions. The key to behavioural design is understanding which aspects of design should be applied or omitted in order to generate specific feelings that you want to evoke in potential customers or employees.

A common example used when explaining behavioural design is the ‘Bouba & Kiki’ effect. Before continuing, look at the two shapes below and answer: Which is called Bouba, and which would you name Kiki?

When looking at the two shapes and being asked “Which is Bouba and which is Kiki?”. The vast majority of people will name the rounder shape ‘Bouba’ and the sharper shape ‘Kiki’. Similarly, participants associate certain attributes with each shape. For example, we typically find a rounder shape to be described as ‘more friendly’ than the sharper counterpart.

Other crucial factors in behavioural design include:

  • Colour Theory: Colours have a strong connection to human emotion. For example, many brands use blue (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to name a few) as it is considered a calming colour that elicits a sense of trust.
  • Animation/Movement: Similarly to colour, the way something is animated can provide a sense of ease or tension. Imagine something gliding and smoothly looping around in comparison to something that snaps into place.
  • Progression Disclosure: This is when some advanced or rarely used features are deferred to a secondary screen or tab, making an application easier to understand and read upon first viewing.
  • Loss Aversion Bias: People tend to favour avoiding a loss over acquiring equivalent gains. This is strongly linked to ‘Negativity Bias’ - the tendency to always feel negatives more than positives.
  • Social Proof: This is when people copy the actions of others to emulate behaviours and achieve certain outcomes in situations that they may find themselves in. An incredibly common example of this is making decisions based off other customers’ reviews.

All of the above and more should be taken into consideration when looking at how something should be designed and presented (or not designed and presented).

This knowledge of behavioural science is extremely important in designing products, marketing campaigns, websites, and much more. Every single design choice made can end up changing how a person feels about something, and so must be done with great consideration.

When does behavioural design become immoral?

Behavioural design is used to influence customers - it can put people at ease to make a customer feel more relaxed and comfortable. However, there are cases where companies use behavioural design in a way that negatively impacts customers, just to put more money in the organisation’s pockets.

Consider a casino, where behavioural design is used specifically to keep customers gambling their money. Among a few tactics of some of the world’s biggest casinos are bright lights and loud music to keep people in the ‘party mood’ even when they’re losing, no windows or clocks so patrons don’t know how long they’ve been there, and chips instead of cash so people don’t feel like they’re losing real money.

Behavioural design is an incredibly powerful tool to have in your arsenal, however it can literally be the difference between keeping a gambling addict sat at a slot machine or getting them to stop. Because of this it needs to be used responsibly, and there needs to be a strong set of morals behind the implementation of behavioural science and design.

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