Scoring and Psychological Weighting

Sent to list as well: 

As I was exploring ideas for 0-4 levels of scoring for Visual Contrast, something occurred to me.

Numbers carry no emotional weight
(with the possible exceptions of 0, 7, and 13, LOL)

The Abstract:

Levels 0-4 or 1-4 are an abstraction. In our paradigm, 4 is best… but in some other paradigms, 1 is best. Of course adding in a 0 level makes it more clear that 1 is less desirable than 4…. Or does it? No, there are plenty of examples where a zero score is a best score.

Why this matters:

The abstract nature of numerical values is useful for ordering things, but not immediately communicative of the value. Presently made worse by ordering the zero on top and the four at the bottom of all the Silver score lists i’ve seen, which is reverse of the conventional wisdom of “best on top”.

In addition, communication can be substantially improved by associating each numbered level with a descriptive adjective:

Level 4: IDEAL
Level 1: POOR
Level 0: FAIL

Adding such simple descriptors not only clarifies meaning, it adds an important element of psychological weighting to the meaning and value of each level. It's easy for a manager to say “oh level 1 or 2 passes, so that’s fine” but it’s not so easy to say “oh poor or marginal is fine.”  Who strive for marginal? We want people to strive for ideal, with a safe fallback to acceptable. 

We do not want to encourage people going for level 1 as if it was an acceptable minimum. The word “poor” ends that.

The importance of being more clear in the meaning of each level at first glance, by using simple terms with a modest emo-weight, cannot be underestimated in value. Standards documents are already highly arcane and often abstracted, and everything we can do to simplify and make “understanding immediate without digging” is a step toward general acceptance and adoption of these guidelines by designers and the public.

Thank you,


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Received on Wednesday, 14 October 2020 15:39:23 UTC