The Psychology of Performance

 5th October 2021
 Yvan Gosselin
Product Development, Sonatest

The Psychology of Performance

In today’s world, people are often in a hurry. We’re all part of this ever faster moving environment. Being quick an agile is now essential not only to succeed, but even just to survive.

Being part of this high pace ecosystem, most of us, and especially the younger generations, now have a shorter attention span. For example, when one is searching information using YouTube videos, less than 5 seconds will be enough to switch from one content to another. People are expecting to get what they are looking for in no time. Quick feedback and fast responses are the norm.

Interestingly enough, the expectation of getting quick response in a human-machine interface is not a new concern. In fact, it has been studied as early as in 1968; Robert Miller wrote an interesting article at the time entitled Response time in man-computer conversational transactions.

The impact of slow response time when interacting with a computer or a machine has an impact far beyond the simple extra time the user waits for the response, result of feedback. It affects the user’s concentration and breaks the flow. It distracts the user that will most likely lose attention. It pulls the user out of “the zone”. In an online blog published on “uptrends” (reference below), the author refers to Robert Miller’s study in the following words: ”Miller’s research supported the age-old findings that for effective communication some response is needed within two seconds of a request. A wait longer than two seconds breaks concentration and affects productivity. If the interaction were to take longer than two seconds, setting expectations about the response time frame reduced frustration, but it doesn’t do anything for the thought process. A meaningful response occurs in under two seconds otherwise a breakdown in thought process and internal and external distractions demand the attention of the user. Psychologists connect this need for fast responses with what they call “flow.”

Slow response times typically distract the user, requiring extra time for him or her to get back in the flow. Worst, it may distract the user enough such that the following actions taken may then not be as precise or worse, may be plain erroneous.

This concept of the flow is defined as “a state of concentration so focused that it amounts to absolute absorption in an activity” by Csikszentmihalyi. This state is attained when performing complicated tasks requiring a high level of concentration.

Everyone can recall bad experiences using slow software or having to deal with a non-responsive Website. We all feel the frustration and, as stated above, are definitely subject to losing our concentration in whatever task we are trying to achieve.

This is also true when using any sophisticated instruments. This is why a responsive, well optimized and high-performance piece of gear brings so may advantages. Not only will it help accomplish the task faster because of the obvious quicker response times, but it will also allow the user to remain in the zone making sure concentration in performing the task is kept at its peek. And as mentioned previously, having and keeping the user’s full attention may also avoid distraction that may lead to erroneous operations.

Because Sonatest’s product design team are aware of the psychology of performance, its products like the veo3 or Wave do provide exceptionally fast response time. Would it be instantaneous recalculation of focal laws or [other examples] , the product engineers have put all the effort in optimizing the design and the code in order to offer this superior user experience. Moreover, this helps keep the user concentrated on the task, allowing to accomplish the duty faster, with less chances of generating distractions that may then lead to wrong manipulations.

By designing the product platform from the ground up, it allows the application software to run on electronics and system software that are optimized and lightweight, resulting in exceptional performance. And we now know why this is so important. Because of the psychology of performance!

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