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5. Integrating: Hacks 53–61 > 56. Don’t Go There

Don’t Go There

You’re drawn to reach in the same direction as something you’re reacting to, even if the direction is completely unimportant.

So much of what we do in everyday life is responding to something that we’ve seen or heard—choosing and clicking a button on a dialog box on a computer or leaping to turn the heat off when a pan boils over. Unfortunately, we’re not very good at reacting only to the relevant information. The form in which we receive it leaks over into our response.

For instance, if you’re reacting to something that appears on your left, it’s faster to respond with your left hand, and it takes a little longer to respond with your right. And this is true even when location isn’t important at all. In general, the distracting effect of location responses is called the Simon Effect, 1 named after J. Richard Simon, who first published on it in 1968 and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Iowa. 2


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