Chapter 3


  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.2 What Is Cognition?
  • 3.3 Cognitive Frameworks


The main aims of this chapter are to:

  • Explain what cognition is and why it is important for interaction design.
  • Discuss what attention is and its effects on our ability to multitask.
  • Describe how memory can be enhanced through technology aids.
  • Explain what mental models are.
  • Show the difference between classic internal cognitive frameworks (e.g. mental models) and more recent external cognitive approaches (e.g. distributed cognition) that have been applied to HCI.
  • Enable you to try to elicit a mental model and be able to understand what it means.

3.1 Introduction

Imagine it is late in the evening and you are sitting in front of your computer. You have an assignment to complete by tomorrow morning – a 3000 word essay on how natural are natural user interfaces – but you are not getting very far with it. You begin to panic and start biting your nails. You see the email icon on your smartphone light up indicating new email has arrived. You instantly abandon your textbook and cradle your smartphone to see who it is from. You're disappointed. Just another message about an upcoming conference you have no interest in. Before you know it you're back on Facebook to see if any of your friends have posted anything about the party you wanted to go to but had to say no. A Skype message flashes up and you see it is your dad calling. You answer it and he asks if you have been watching ...

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