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100 Things: Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Ph.D. Susan Weinschenk,

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45. People Pay Attention Only to Salient Cues

Look at the pictures of a U.S. penny in Figure 45.1. Which one is the real penny? Don’t cheat. Try and figure it out first, before you go get a penny to check.

Figure 45.1. Which is the real penny?

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If you live in the U.S. and use U.S. coins, then a penny is something you’ve probably seen a lot. But you only pay attention to certain attributes of the penny, for instance, its color and size. These are what psychologists call “salient cues.” You only pay attention to what you need for the task at hand. Although there’s a lot of detail on the penny, a lot of cues, the salient ones for most people are color ...

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