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Benevolent deception: "The placebo button effect" » English to Czech

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Source text in English

Over the course of many years, without making any great fuss about it, the authorities in New York disabled most of the control buttons that once operated pedestrian-crossing lights in the city. Computerised timers, they had decided, almost always worked better. By 2004, fewer than 750 of 3,250 such buttons remained functional. The city government did not, however, take the disabled buttons away—beckoning countless fingers to futile pressing.

Initially, the buttons survived because of the cost of removing them. But it turned out that even inoperative buttons serve a purpose. Pedestrians who press a button are less likely to cross before the green man appears, says Tal Oron-Gilad of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Israel. Having studied behaviour at crossings, she notes that people more readily obey a system which purports to heed their input.

Inoperative buttons produce placebo effects of this sort because people like an impression of control over systems they are using, says Eytan Adar, an expert on human-computer interaction at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Dr Adar notes that his students commonly design software with a clickable “save” button that has no role other than to reassure those users who are unaware that their keystrokes are saved automatically anyway. Think of it, he says, as a touch of benevolent deception to counter the inherent coldness of the machine world.

That is one view. But, at road crossings at least, placebo buttons may also have a darker side. Ralf Risser, head of FACTUM, a Viennese institute that studies psychological factors in traffic systems, reckons that pedestrians’ awareness of their existence, and consequent resentment at the deception, now outweighs the benefits.

The winning entry has been announced in this pair.

There were 4 entries submitted in this pair during the submission phase. The winning entry was determined based on finals round voting by peers.

Competition in this pair is now closed.


Entries (4 total) Expand all entries

Entry #25112 — Discuss 0 — Variant: Not specified
Jana Zajicova
Jana Zajicova
Չեխիայի Հանրապետություն
Winner
Voting points1st2nd3rd
4510 x42 x21 x1
Entry tagging:
 
 
  • 1 user entered 3 "like" tags
  • 1 user agreed with "likes" (1 total agree)
bez velkých cavyků
Good term selection
Jan Procházka
nadále lákají nesčetné prsty k bezvýslednému mačkání
Flows well
Jan Procházka
+1
vnést klid do duší
Flows well
Jan Procházka
Entry #25510 — Discuss 0 — Variant: Not specified
Voting points1st2nd3rd
223 x43 x24 x1
Entry tagging:
 
 
  • 1 user entered 1 "like" tag
  • 2 users agreed with "likes" (2 total agrees)
+2
povypínal
Good term selection
Sarka Lhotak
Entry #25007 — Discuss 0 — Variant: Not specified
Klára Ježková
Klára Ježková
Չեխիայի Հանրապետություն
Voting points1st2nd3rd
212 x45 x23 x1
Entry tagging:
 
 
  • 2 users entered 2 "like" tags
  • 2 users agreed with "likes" (2 total agrees)
a tak se k nim nespočetné lidské prsty zvedají dál v marném gestu.
Good term selection
Jirina Judas
+2
počkají na zeleného panáčka
Flows well
Sarka Lhotak
Entry #25564 — Discuss 0 — Variant: Not specified
Voting points1st2nd3rd
0000
Entry tagging:
 
 
  • No "like" tags


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