Seeing is believing


I remember a session in college where our research methods teacher took us through a ‘follow my instructions carefully’ routine. He spoke aloud as he demonstrated simple actions – now raise your left hand, touch your ear and so on. And then ‘slowly bring your hand down and touch your cheek’ – he said, at the same time, touching his chin.

And we found that almost everyone in the class had a finger on the chin – despite a clear instruction to place it on the cheek. That was a simple powerful example of how strong visual cues are – and how they pale in comparison to other kinds of cues.

And even within visual cues, the hierarchies – symbols over words – anywhere, anytime. Symbols including color – as I discovered today at my workplace. I kept trying to get the air-conditioner working – the switch was clearly (to my mind) ON – but the machine stayed silent and idle. was not working. And I went on, tapping on the remote control and twirling the knobs.

See the problem? The ON position in Red and OFF in Green. And all these days, I had not even noticed this. And assumed that if it was green, then it was on!

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