The Illusion of Control

Your constantly-updated definition of the Illusion of Control and collection of videos and articles

What is the Illusion of Control?

The illusion of control is a social phenomenon that acknowledges the belief that we have control over situations that are obviously beyond our realm of influence.

Basically, the illusion of control is one of the many cognitive biases. In general, bias clouts thinking and objectivity.

The illusion of control falls under the broader category of “positive illusion” because the beholder is considering themselves in a positive light that enhances their self-esteem and perception.

By believing they have more control than they do in reality, discomfort is temporarily diminished. When they perceive a situation to be “under control”, users feel a sense of safety and peace.

UX designers can create experiences where the user feels in control, thereby increasing feel-good emotions. For example, the download progress bar always has a time discrepancy between the “estimated” download and how long it actually takes to download. Nevertheless, seeing the download progress gives users a feeling of control, a greater reassurance that things are acting according to plan.

Literature on the Illusion of Control

Here’s the entire UX literature on the Illusion of Control by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about the Illusion of Control

Take a deep dive into Illusion of Control with our course UI Design Patterns for Successful Software .

Have you ever found yourself spotting shapes in the clouds? That is because people are hard-wired to recognize patterns, even when there are none. It’s the same reason that we often think we know where to click when first experiencing a website—and get frustrated if things aren’t where we think they should be. Choosing the right user interface design pattern is crucial to taking advantage of this natural pattern-spotting, and this course will teach you how to do just that.

User interface design patterns are the means by which structure and order can gel together to make powerful user experiences. Structure and order are also a user’s best friends, and along with the fact that old habits die hard (especially on the web), it is essential that designers consider user interfaces very carefully before they set the final design in stone. Products should consist of such good interactions that users don’t even notice how they got from point A to point B. Failing to do so can lead to user interfaces that are difficult or confusing to navigate, requiring the user to spend an unreasonable amount of time decoding the display—and just a few seconds too many can be “unreasonable”—rather than fulfilling their original aims and objectives.

While the focus is on the practical application of user interface design patterns, by the end of the course you will also be familiar with current terminology used in the design of user interfaces, and many of the key concepts under discussion. This should help put you ahead of the pack and furnish you with the knowledge necessary to advance beyond your competitors.

So, if you are struggling to decide which user interface design pattern is best, and how you can achieve maximum usability through implementing it, then step no further. This course will equip you with the knowledge necessary to select the most appropriate display methods and solve common design problems affecting existing user interfaces.

All open-source articles on the Illusion of Control

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Interaction Design Foundation - IxDF. (2016, June 1). What is the Illusion of Control?. Interaction Design Foundation - IxDF.

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