In cognitive design we look for specific features and functions that reliably produce a given psychological impact or mental state. For example, the facial features of big round eyes, a prominent forehead and pudgy cheeks generates the psychological response that what we see is cute, adorable and even squeezable.
I have cataloged 310 such design patterns and the theories behind them. But I am always on the lookout for more. A new entry I am considering is based on the research, Rituals Enhance Consumption, recently reported in Psychological Science.
The researchers conducted four experiments that suggest adding rituals and delays to food consumption more deeply involves us in the experience of eating and has a significant impact on how much flavor and enjoyment we experience. And the rituals do not need to be complex. Here is what they used:
“Without unwrapping the chocolate bar, break it in half. Unwrap half of the bar and eat it. Then, unwrap the other half and eat it.”
Of course, the experimental situation is contrived and so applying this result requires establishing a personal ritual. Personal rituals have meaning and create a state of mindfulness and thus enhance the experience. But how do we break that down into the features and functions of a design pattern? Saying we need to ritualize is too vague.