Three levels of information processing

June 12, 2008

Three levels of processing:

  1. Visceral
  2. Behavioral
  3. Reflective

“The visceral level is fast: it makes rapid judgments of what is good or bad, safe or dangerous, and sends appropriate signals to the muscles (the motor system) and alerts the rest of the brain. This is the start of affective processing. These are biologically determined and can be inhibited or enhanced through control signals from above. The behavioral level is the site of most human behavior. Its actions can be enhanced or inhibited by the reflective layer and, in turn, it can enhance or inhibit the visceral layer. The highest layer is that of reflective thought. Note that it does not have direct access either to sensory input or to the control of behavior. Instead it watches over, reflects upon, and tries to bias the behavioral level.”

From: Norman, Donald (2004), Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things, San Francisco: Basic Books, p.3

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