Browse Definitions :
Definition

Hick's law

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

SearchCompliance
  • OPSEC (operations security)

    OPSEC (operations security) is a security and risk management process and strategy that classifies information, then determines ...

  • smart contract

    A smart contract is a decentralized application that executes business logic in response to events.

  • compliance risk

    Compliance risk is an organization's potential exposure to legal penalties, financial forfeiture and material loss, resulting ...

SearchSecurity
  • DOS (disk operating system)

    A DOS, or disk operating system, is an operating system that runs from a disk drive. The term can also refer to a particular ...

  • private key

    A private key, also known as a secret key, is a variable in cryptography that is used with an algorithm to encrypt and decrypt ...

  • security token

    A security token is a physical or digital device that provides two-factor authentication for a user to prove their identity in a ...

SearchHealthIT
SearchDisasterRecovery
  • What is risk mitigation?

    Risk mitigation is a strategy to prepare for and lessen the effects of threats faced by a business.

  • change control

    Change control is a systematic approach to managing all changes made to a product or system.

  • disaster recovery (DR)

    Disaster recovery (DR) is an organization's ability to respond to and recover from an event that affects business operations.

SearchStorage
  • What is RAID 6?

    RAID 6, also known as double-parity RAID, uses two parity stripes on each disk. It allows for two disk failures within the RAID ...

  • 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.

  • VRAM (video RAM)

    VRAM (video RAM) refers to any type of random access memory (RAM) specifically used to store image data for a computer display.

Close