Blog #7: Are you reading me??

blog7As I think about all the direction signs I have seen, it made me wonder who really pays attention to all of them. Do you really pay attention to them while driving? Especially the ones that are overhead on the highways warning you about “texting and driving” or “7-10 minutes on I-75/85”? I know that I do not, and that it takes about a second for me to glance and keep going. The same goes for instruction manuals. Have you thoroughly read one lately? When I look over one, all I see are a bunch of words. It is very difficult for me to follow one for “setting up a computer”.

The most likely person to read instructions step-by-step would be women. Women tend to like step-by-step processes rather than men. From my previous experiences, I usually tend to read something first before setting it up. However, when my fiancé tries to set something up, most likely he did not read. It also reflects different cultures as well. For Americans, about half of us will read signs or instructions. For Asian-Americans or Hispanic-Americans, we see signs misinterpret because of their culture.

Now onto the good stuff! So why are signs or instructions never read?? Here are some pointers:

  • fear of looking foolish
  • fear of being taken advantage of
  • fear of failure
  • and fear of losing image

(source:Hibbard 2014)

It’s just the way humans are. For example, I misjudge instructions given to me at work. I tend to figure it out before reading it carefully or asking a manager about it. It is just the way I am. Heres another example: how to set up your PS4. My PS4 came with two instruction manual. One was a simple version, giving you one worded sentences per number. The second one was a booklet on how to set it up. Which one did you think I picked?? If you guessed simple version, then you are correct! It is a dilemma between reading or figuring out what you are doing. I would rather read first before figuring it out. What about you? Overall, the way that information is distributed out to people is a matter of reading and understanding what he or she is doing. Take the time to read!

Source cited

Hibbard, Catherine. Addressing resistance to change in policy and procedure writing.

4 thoughts on “Blog #7: Are you reading me??”

  1. You offer a very interesting perspective on this topic. Although, I understand where the stereotype of men not reading directions come from, as a result of my past, I read each and every direction I come across. : I make sure that I read every little sign I pass while driving, because I have received tickets for turning down a one way, turning down a street that wasn’t supposed to be turned down between the hours of 7:00am and 9:00am (it was 8:30am when I turned), and the infamous DO NOT PARK HERE situation. So, consequently, every move I make, every turn I take, I read every sign.

    1. I am always reading road signs too! Admittedly, it is because I am extremely paranoid and want to be able to say exactly where I am if I ever witness or am involved in a car accident. I know most people probably ignore 90% of the signs on the road, but I am always trying to stay aware of them.

      As for reading the instructions, I (a woman) like the step-by-step guide because that way I can ensure that I’ve done something the exact way that it was intended to be done. It’s not that I don’t think I could figure something out on my own. I probably could if I tried. But I just want the end result to be perfect and exactly how the manufacturer intended it to be! What if I miss a screw? Or perform some of the steps out of order? Maybe this is why the stereotype exists that women read instructions more?

  2. I have definitely been sing the technique of presenting information in simple and complex forms more lately. I think this comes from end user feedback and common knowledge. Manufacturers know the customer is not going to use the in depth extensive manual unless there is a serious issue that needs troubleshooting. But to operate and prevent issue the manufacturers need to get the most important stuff out in these simple little mini-booklets that often accompany a standard manual.

    Even more frustrating however is that ive noticed some products(and not simple everyday ones either) are starting to leave instruction manuals out of physical product packages altogether. They assume readers know what to do or will have no issue tinkering around until they do. Some companies transfer the manuals online and some simply rely on help desks or the power of the online search to educate their users.

    I would have loved to see some stats on the gender and cultural differences you mentioned here.

    Good post!

  3. Contrary to your first statement, I tend to actually pay attention to road signs or other basic conventions while driving for numerous reasons. Firstly, because I believe not everyone driving is as good as I am. While I don’t think I happen to be the best driving, I have always learned to drive as both and offensive and defensive driver. Road instructions are put in place either for your protection, or the protection of others so it would make more sense that we as individuals are constantly on the look out and always cautious.

    I also enjoy reading instructions placed on food packages considering I never knew how to make pancakes. It definitely is helpful being able to read those even though people who don’t have a need for it do exist!

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