Browse Definitions:
Definition

Hick's law

Contributor(s): Trea Lavery

Hick's law is a psychological principle which states that the more options are available to a person, the longer it will take for him or her to make a decision about which option is best. Hick's law is also sometimes referred to as the Hick-Hyman law.

Named for psychologists William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman, the law provides a logarithmic function which models the reaction time (RT) required to make a decision:

RT = a + b log2(n)

In this function, n is the number of choices while a and b are constants which depend on the circumstances of the decision being made.

Hick's law only applies to situations in which decisions are simple or based on quick reactions. For example, one experiment showed that customers were more likely to purchase jars of jam when there were six flavors displayed than when there were 24 flavors, because making the difficult decision when there were too many flavors deterred potential buyers. Conversely, a decision which requires more thought or research will not be affected, such as choosing a restaurant to eat at or a multiple-choice question on a test.

Hick's law

Hick's law is often utilized in user experience design. Designers often use the "Keep it Simple, Stupid" principle to avoid overwhelming potential users or website visitors. This is especially important for websites when planning navigation menus. Having too many links makes it difficult to find the category that the user is looking for, and discourages them from staying on the website.

One way of avoiding this issue, if having many options is necessary for the purpose of the website, is categorizing options. Grouping them together cuts down on the items in the list, making it much easier for the user to find what they are looking for and make a decision faster.

This was last updated in April 2017

Continue Reading About Hick's law

Join the conversation

1 comment

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

How have you used Hick's law in planning your website or application designs?
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

SearchSecurity

  • password

    A password is an unspaced sequence of characters used to determine that a computer user requesting access to a computer system is...

  • adware

    Adware is any software application in which advertising banners are displayed while a program is running.

  • botnet

    A botnet is a collection of internet-connected devices, which may include PCs, servers, mobile devices and internet of things ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

  • mass notification system (MNS)

    A mass notification system is a platform that sends one-way messages to inform employees and the public of an emergency.

  • disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)

    One approach to a strong disaster recovery plan is DRaaS, where companies offload data replication and restoration ...

SearchStorage

  • data migration

    Data migration is the process of transferring data between data storage systems, data formats or computer systems.

  • compact disc (CD)

    A compact disc is a portable storage medium that can be used for recording, storing and playing back audio, video and other data ...

  • secondary storage

    Secondary storage is used to protect inactive data written from a primary storage array to a nonvolatile tier of disk, flash or ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • SSD RAID (solid-state drive RAID)

    SSD RAID (solid-state drive RAID) is a methodology commonly used to protect data by distributing redundant data blocks across ...

  • Tier 0

    Tier 0 (tier zero) is a level of data storage that is faster, and perhaps more expensive, than any other level in the storage ...

  • PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive)

    A PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive) is a high-speed expansion card that attaches a computer to its peripherals.

SearchCloudStorage

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

  • Zadara VPSA and ZIOS

    Zadara Storage provides block, file or object storage with varying levels of compute and capacity through its ZIOS and VPSA ...

Close