FIGURE 2.4. Levels of Processing and theStages of the Action Cycle. Visceral response isat the lowest level: the control of simple musclesand sensing the state of the world and body. Thebehavioral level is about expectations, so it is sensitiveto the expectations of the action sequenceand then the interpretations of the feedback. Thereflective level is a part of the goal- and plan-settingactivity as well as affected by the comparisonof expectations with what has actually happened.two: The Psychology of Everyday Actions 57People are innately disposed to look for causes of events, to formexplanations and stories. That is one reason storytelling is sucha persuasive medium. Stories resonate with our experiences andprovide examples of new instances. From our experiences and thestories of others we tend to form generalizations about the waypeople behave and things work. We attribute causes to events, andas long as these cause-and-effect pairings make sense, we acceptthem and use them for understanding future events. Yet thesecausal attributions are often erroneous. Sometimes they implicatethe wrong causes, and for some things that happen, there is nosingle cause; rather, a complex chain of events that all contributeto the result: if any one of the events would not have occurred, theresult would be different. But even when there is no single causalact, that doesnt stop people from assigning one.�Conceptual models are a form of story, resulting from our predispositionto find explanations. These models are essential in helpingus understand our experiences, predict the outcome of our actions,and handle unexpected occurrences. We base our models on whateverknowledge we have, real or imaginary, naive or sophisticated.Conceptual models are often constructed from fragmentary evidence,with only a poor understanding of what is happening, andwith a kind of naive psychology that postulates causes, mechanisms,and relationships even where there are none. Some faultymodels lead to the frustrations of everyday life, as in the case of myunsettable refrigerator, where my conceptual model of its operation(see again Figure 1.10A) did not correspond to reality (Figure
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1.10B). Far more serious are faulty models of such complex systemsas an industrial plant or passenger airplane. Misunderstandingthere can lead to devastating accidents.Consider the thermostat that controls room heating and coolingsystems. How does it work? The average thermostat offers almostno evidence of its operation except in a highly roundabout manner.All we know is that if the room is too cold, we set a highertemperature into the thermostat. Eventually we feel warmer. Notethat the same thing applies to the temperature control for almostany device whose temperature is to be regulated. Want to bake a58 The Design of Everyday Thingscake? Set the oven thermostat and the oven goes to the desiredtemperature.
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