Research Background and Questions

User Experience (UX) design refers to how a user feels when interacting with a system. It is commonly implied by a certain form of human-computer interaction (HCI) stated Gube, J (2010). Most user-centered design practices and methods are applied to UX design products such as websites, applications, videos, games etc. in order to produce cohesive, well-managed and desirable effects which suits a specific target audience. So how does cognitive psychology come into the picture? First used in 1976 by Ulric Neisser, the term ‘cognitive psychology’ is the branch of psychology which focuses on the way people process information. It looks at how we receive information, and how the treatment of this information leads to our responses. There are certain basic principles in cognitive psychology which revolves around the topics of perception, attention, memory, problem-solving and so on. These topics will be further researched and analyzed in order to carry out its potential and to apply it in designing interactivity.

Donald A. Norman, a well-known author for his books on design, was one of the first to build a bridge between cognitive psychology and interaction design. He mentions in one of his books, The Design of Everyday Things (1988), that great designers produce pleasurable experiences, and fundamental principles of psychology provides a useful framework for understanding human action and interaction design.



  • How does basic cognitive psychology play a significant role in UX design?
  • What can we take away from this research as interactive media designers?
  • How can interactive media designers apply these theories to future projects and design with psychology in mind?


Research Scope and Concepts

For this assignment, the research scope will be narrowed down to understand the brief background in cognitive psychology which is enough for interactive designers to understand human capabilities and limitations. Johnson (2012) mentions that there is little practicality in breaking down and going through every psychological principle which relates to design, but understanding the key concepts can be a powerful gateway to great design.

Norman (1988) states that cognitive thoughts lead to emotions, while emotions drive cognitive thoughts. Personally, I believe it’s incredibly fascinating and infuriating at the same time to fall in love with design and not being able to comprehend why we like or dislike certain things. Why are people intrigued by parallax websites? Why do we understand the simple icons in our smartphones? These are the kinds of questions that will be discussed in the paper, and the reason for analyzing these theories is to acknowledge the many principles which exists behind user experience design, so that we are able to bring more logic into the creative process of interactive media design.


Research Outcome and Relevance

This paper aims to cover basic psychology principles which will provide grounding for interactive media designers to further improve their skills and techniques. The proposed research paper is relevant to the industry field as interactive media is growing rapidly in today’s generation. As designers, it is crucial to recognize these basic psychology principles which goes behind UX design in order to thoroughly understand the diversity in users’ behaviors and preferences while still being able to meet each user’s needs to the fullest.


Research Feasibility and Ethics

Being in the interactive media field, psychology theories have not been touched upon before which will be quite a challenge and requires more research in order to support this paper. However, these challenges will be beneficial in the learning process of this module and the outcome of future projects. There are no ethical concerns for this proposed research paper as it is a degree research essay which is articulated and supported through the reference of existing works and artefacts.



Reference list



The role of cognitive psychology in UX design


User Experience (UX) design, first brought to wider knowledge by Donald Norman in the mid-1990s, refers to how a user feels when interacting with a system. In modern contexts, whether a website, an application or a software, it’s commonly implied by a certain form of human-computer interaction (HCI) stated Gube, J (2010). So how does cognitive psychology come into the picture? Hammond, Gardiner, and Christie (1987) describe the role of cognitive psychology in HCI to include observing human behavior, while understanding the same experiential study of human acquisition, storage and use of knowledge.



This paper aims to understand the brief background in cognitive psychology which is enough for designers to understand human capabilities and limitation in order to apply efficient UX guidelines and strategies to their projects. As interactive media designers, it is crucial to recognize these basic psychology principles which goes behind UX design in order to thoroughly understand the diversity in users’ behaviors and preferences while still being able to meet each user’s needs to the fullest.

ENTRY 10: updated essay outline

After much consideration and research, I have decided to switch my focus to writing about misleading headlines in women’s magazines.

During the last consultation I had with Daniel, he suggested for me to look through magazine interviews to find materialistic contents that does not contribute to women empowerment. However, after flipping through several magazine interviews, I realized that all the interviewers have asked relevant and respectable questions. It would be too difficult to dig out enough materialistic content to support my statement.

So I continued my research and realized that the magazine headlines found in fashion/beauty/lifestyle magazine for teens are rather misleading and submissive. (eg: “Top 5 fashion trends guys HATE on girls” / “the top scents he’ll love on you!” / “what does your man think about your style?”)

Then I remembered reading these magazines (Cleo/seventeen/teenbop/tigerbeat) as a young, curious teen seeking for beauty, fashion and lifestyle tips. It wasn’t until I was 16 years old that I realized these magazines had me taking their advice for the sake of the opposite gender and NOT for myself.
As a strong believer of feminism today, I would hate to see other young girls running to newsstands to pick up the latest teen mag just because its cover claims to teach them how to impress that new boy in class.

Through it all, I have decided to focus on this issue and create an essay outline around it.

Thesis statement: Misleading headlines in women’s fashion magazines are NOT contributing to feminism in Malaysia

P1 – Types of magazines: Fashion / lifestyle / beauty magazines for young women

P2 – Issues regarding misleading headlines: encouraging submissive behavior in young women.

Some examples can be seen in these local websites:

P3 – Comparison of headlines in women’s magazines and men’s magazines. / Gender inequality

P4 – Why is ‘feminist’ still seen as a dirty word / Why do we need feminism in local media

Conclusion – How headlines leave a lasting impression and how important it is to provide a relevant headline and content in magazines in order to support and contribute to feminism

The essay outline above will be further refined as I gather more contents.

– CLEO Malaysia. ‘5 Ways To Be Irresistible To Guys’. (2015). Available at: [Last accessed: 30th July 2015]

– CLEO Malaysia. ‘Sexy Scents He’ll Just Love’. (2014). Available at: [Last accessed: 30th July 2015]

– Co.Design. “Misleading Headlines Can Leave Lasting Impressions, Even If You Read The Article’. (2014). Available at: [Last accessed: 30th July 2015]

– Female. ‘How To Meet A Man On The Job’. (2013). Available at: [Last accessed: 30th July 2015]

– Malaysian Digest. ‘Yes, It’s 2015 and Feminism Is Still A Dirty Word?’. (2015). Available at: [Last accessed: 30th July 2015]

Entry 9: Thesis Statement

The main focus of this essay will be on magazine advertisements in Malaysia, and the kind of roles women play in these advertisement. The outline for this essay may change slightly in the next few weeks depending on the continuous research that I will be doing for the topic. Below is a thesis statement I have produced based on women’s roles in local fashion-based magazines:

> Introduction to local fashion-based magazines

> Analysis of women’s portrayal in magazine advertisements

> Gender stereotypes / sexism

> How feminism has changed and shaped advertisements

> The misconception of feminism that are still happening today

> Conclusion: Positive feminist movements, campaigns bringing a different perspective in magazine advertisements

Entry 8: Observing women’s portrayal in Malaysian magazines

Gender stereotyping and sexism is still something that exists in local magazines today. so I’ve decided to research further and found that women portrayal is mainly used to gain attention and most of the time, the presence of sexually explicit images of women has no relevance to the advertisement product at all. Advertisements generally depicts women as homemakers or mothers or shows them as sex objects or in sexually provocative figures (Kilbourne, 1995). In an article by Kalaiyarasi Kathiraveloo (2001), which shows the study and comparison of women’s portrayal in two local magazines, ‘Wanita’ and ‘Her World’, states that gender stereotyping always plays a significant role in magazine advertisements. “Advertisements for cosmetics, lingerie, beer and liquor are among the most criticized for their portrayal of women as sex objects” states Kathiraveloo.

Further research will be done on this topic soon. For my next and final blog post, I’ll be producing the thesis statement for my essay.



2. Her World Malaysia,. ‘Her World Malaysia’. (2015). Available at: [Last accessed: 25 June 2015]

3. Women Online Magazine,. ‘Women Online Magazine’. (2015). Available at: [Last accessed: 25 June 2015]

Entry 7: Direction

After doing adequate research and appointing a tutorial session with our lecturer, the next thing to do is to narrow down my researches and focus on the topic that I’d like to discuss in my essay. According to the essay question, it is required that we analyse local or regional based fashion-based traditional mass media. So I’ve been doing some research on advertisements in Malaysian women magazines, and I found that there are several directions I could go for. Firstly, I could talk about the portrayal of women in these magazines, which includes sexist advertisements, stereotypes, feminism movement and so on. OR I could focus on cultural analysis in Malaysian magazines (beauty trends, constructions of beauty, cultural preferences)

I’ll be analyzing these topics further in my next blog post.

Entry 6: The dark side

There are many factors that contributes to a poor body image. Because images of ridiculously thin and perfect-looking women are all over the media, it’s no wonder that the percentage of illnesses like anorexia, bulimia, depression etc are increasing. We live in a media-saturated world where our decisions and point of view are highly influenced by what we see in the media. According to, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and up to 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S.

Many celebrities also battle with eating disorders due to the high demands from the media. One good example would be singer/actress Demi Lovato. CNN has dubbed Lovato as “warrior for mental wellness” for winning her battle against depression, bipolar disorder, anorexia, bulimia and problems with drug addiction. Demi has since recovered from her illnesses and launched the “Love Is Louder Than The Pressure To Be Perfect” campaign, helped thousands of fans around the world battling with eating disorders, and even started “The Lovato Treatment Scholarship” program to help pay for treatment expenses at Cast Recovery for anyone who needs help. Demi has been speaking out to young girls everywhere who struggle with their image. “I want girls to know that it’s okay when they grow up and their body changes. I want them to be aware that certain things they might do to lose weight can be dangerous — life-threatening, even.”

Eating disorders and other body dissatisfaction doesn’t happen just by a single cause, but unfortunately, research has proven that the media does contribute a lot and the pressure exerted by magazines, television and social media highly increases disordered eating.


1. ANAD. (2015). Eating Disorders Statistics – National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. Available at: [Last Accessed: 19th June 2015]

2. CNN. (2015). Mental Wellness Warriors: Fighting for the mentally ill. Available at: [Last Accessed: 19th June 2015]

3. NEDA – Feeding Hope. (2011). Media, Body Image and Eating Disorders. Available at: [Last Accessed: 19th June 2015]