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.

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

SearchCompliance

  • PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)

    The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a widely accepted set of policies and procedures intended to ...

  • risk management

    Risk management is the process of identifying, assessing and controlling threats to an organization's capital and earnings.

  • compliance framework

    A compliance framework is a structured set of guidelines that details an organization's processes for maintaining accordance with...

SearchSecurity

  • Trojan horse (computing)

    In computing, a Trojan horse is a program downloaded and installed on a computer that appears harmless, but is, in fact, ...

  • identity theft

    Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of personally identifiable ...

  • DNS over HTTPS (DoH)

    DNS over HTTPS (DoH) is a relatively new protocol that encrypts domain name system traffic by passing DNS queries through a ...

SearchHealthIT

  • telemedicine (telehealth)

    Telemedicine is the remote delivery of healthcare services, such as health assessments or consultations, over the ...

  • Project Nightingale

    Project Nightingale is a controversial partnership between Google and Ascension, the second largest health system in the United ...

  • medical practice management (MPM) software

    Medical practice management (MPM) software is a collection of computerized services used by healthcare professionals and ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

SearchStorage

  • M.2 SSD

    An M.2 SSD is a solid-state drive (SSD) that conforms to a computer industry specification and is used in internally mounted ...

  • kilobyte (KB or Kbyte)

    A kilobyte (KB or Kbyte) is a unit of measurement for computer memory or data storage used by mathematics and computer science ...

  • virtual memory

    Virtual memory is a memory management capability of an operating system (OS) that uses hardware and software to allow a computer ...

Close