Human Factors

The average grocery store has 39,500 products and the average super center has 120,000. How can you disrupt the shelf and stand out from the rest? The answer is knowing and utilizing human factors, also known as ergonomics. No matter our culture, our language, our color, or our gender – human factors are the psychological and sociological ways that we are all hard wired. How we perceive. How we think. How we’re attracted. How we act.


In this online course, we discuss over 80 examples of human factors like figure ground relationships, geometric rules, and design hierarchy techniques, all with references to modern packaging design. The resource will give you insight into how we use our senses to process the information we are bombarded with every day, and some tips and tricks to turn expectations on their ear. Over a series of bite-size videos, you will get the tools needed to incorporate disruption into your packaging design and encourage the bottom-up processing that will make your package jump off the shelf.


Introduction to Human Factors

  • Introduction
  • Calipers and Workbook


  • Introduction to Perception
  • Sensory Processing
  • 3D Perception
  • Alignment
  • Closure
  • Constancy
  • Face-ism Ratio
  • Figure/Ground
  • Gutenberg Diagram
  • Highlighting
  • Iconic Representation
  • Law of Pragnanz
  • Proximity
  • Signal to Noise Ratio
  • Threat Detection
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Knowledge Check


  • Introduction to Cognition
  • Working Memory:Conditions and Chunking
  • Working Memory: Chunking
  • Hidden Messaging
  • Confusability
  • Accessability
  • Biophilia Hypothesis
  • Ben Franklin Effect
  • Classical Conditioning
  • (Mere) Exposure Effect
  • Immersion
  • Legibility
  • Mnemonic Device
  • Picture Superiority Effect
  • Progressive Disclosure
  • Readability
  • Recognition Over Recall
  • Rosetta Stone
  • Serial Position Effect
  • Shaping
  • Scarcity
  • Von Restorff Effect
  • Emotion
  • Social Proof and Authority
  • Tiger Woods Effect
  • Storytelling
  • Availability Misweighing Effect
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Knowledge Check


  • Introduction to Appeal
  • Archetypes
  • Anthropomorphic Form
  • Attractiveness Bias
  • Baby-Face Bias
  • Cheerleader Effect
  • Cognitive Dissonance
  • The Divine Proportion
  • Golden Ratio
  • Rule of Thirds
  • Framing
  • Most Average Facial Appearance Effect
  • Propositional Density
  • Savanna Preference
  • Scarcity
  • Waist-to-Hip Ratio
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Knowledge Check


  • Introduction to Decisions
  • Decision Making
  • Decision Making: Heuristics
  • Consumers vs. Shoppers
  • Aesthetic-Usability Effect
  • Affordance
  • Expectation Effects: Buyer Behavior
  • Flexibility-Usability Tradeoff
  • Form Follows Function
  • Hierarchy of Needs
  • Life Cycle
  • Ockham’s Razor
  • Performance vs. Preference
  • Scaling Fallacy
  • Ergonomics
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Knowledge Check

Wrap Up

  • Recap
  • Final Exam


The curriculum for this course was designed and written by Dr. R. Andrew Hurley, a professor of Packaging Science who has a PHD in human behavior. Dr. Hurley studies devices on persuasion, argument, information design, and oral and written communication – the ideas spawn out many packaging topics. Dr. Hurley is an Assistant Professor of Packaging Science at Clemson University, where he directs the design, prototyping and consumer experience test labs. Dr. Hurley’s biometric-based consumer experience lab, CUshop, has assisted hundreds of global consumer product groups and small businesses in developing data-driven designs that show increased consumer engagement and sales. The success of his eye tracking program catalyzed the formation of Package InSight, a full service packaging design and consumer experience company located in Greenville, SC.