Using progress bar concept to promote action over life spectatorship

I recently watched this TEDex video on progress bars we see whenever a device has to take some time to compute whatever you asked it to provide.

As it turns out, studies concluded that it doesn’t matter how accurate the progress measurement really is. What matters is that … it’s there at all … Just seeing it makes people feel better.

Ironically enough, the guys doing the study in mid 1980s had these ideas about what the progress bar would enable such as multitasking or even taking a break to relax. What they found, however, is whenever people saw the progress bar, it locked their attention and turned into this exciting narrative in their heads that re-conceptualized the somewhat arbitrary countdown mechanism to being a witness to a sport-like event!

I think this is a great example how easy it is for us to become spectators as well as how we are all wired for appreciating growth. Even when it comes to something as silly as watching a web page to fully load.

In the same study it was found that people don’t care so much for a bar that progresses at a constant pace … even if it’s 100% precise … they much more prefer a bar that goes really fast at the beginning and then slows down somewhere around the middle.

That tells me that we prefer quick wins at the start, but still want to experience some struggle later to feel like we earned it … particularly when we have a clear end in sight.

What does it mean for me?

Struggle is a given, so I’m not even going to address that😁

I think this is a reminder of how important it is to have a clear understanding of what I want to accomplish … after all … if I don’t know where I’m going, how will I know when I get there?

My second take away is to take action, however small, to prove to my logical mind that it is possible before going gets tough.

How do you react when you see a progress bar? What does your reaction tell you about yourself?


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