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Benevolent deception: "The placebo button effect" » English to French

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Source text in English

Over the course of many years, without making any great fuss about it, the authorities in New York disabled most of the control buttons that once operated pedestrian-crossing lights in the city. Computerised timers, they had decided, almost always worked better. By 2004, fewer than 750 of 3,250 such buttons remained functional. The city government did not, however, take the disabled buttons away—beckoning countless fingers to futile pressing.

Initially, the buttons survived because of the cost of removing them. But it turned out that even inoperative buttons serve a purpose. Pedestrians who press a button are less likely to cross before the green man appears, says Tal Oron-Gilad of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Israel. Having studied behaviour at crossings, she notes that people more readily obey a system which purports to heed their input.

Inoperative buttons produce placebo effects of this sort because people like an impression of control over systems they are using, says Eytan Adar, an expert on human-computer interaction at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Dr Adar notes that his students commonly design software with a clickable “save” button that has no role other than to reassure those users who are unaware that their keystrokes are saved automatically anyway. Think of it, he says, as a touch of benevolent deception to counter the inherent coldness of the machine world.

That is one view. But, at road crossings at least, placebo buttons may also have a darker side. Ralf Risser, head of FACTUM, a Viennese institute that studies psychological factors in traffic systems, reckons that pedestrians’ awareness of their existence, and consequent resentment at the deception, now outweighs the benefits.

The winning entry has been announced in this pair.

There were 23 entries submitted in this pair during the submission phase, 4 of which were selected by peers to advance to the finals round. The winning entry was determined based on finals round voting by peers.

Competition in this pair is now closed.


Entries (23 total; 4 finalists) Expand all entries

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Entry #25231 — Discuss 0 — Variant: Not specified
Winner
Voting points1st2nd3rd
305 x44 x22 x1
Rating typeOverallQualityAccuracy
Entry2.952.89 (9 ratings)3.00 (9 ratings)
Entry tagging:
 
 
  • 4 users entered 5 "like" tags
  • 1 user agreed with "likes" (1 total agree)
peuvent s’avérer utiles
Flows well
Laura Hurot
+1
qui prétend tenir compte de nos actions.
Flows well
OpheliaBrunello
à Ann Arbor
Good term selection
à + ville
Reuben Wright
intègrent
Good term selection
Reuben Wright
«
Other
En effet, ​il me semb​le que les​ guillemet​s sont néc​essaires.
Jocelyne Cuenin
Entry #25045 — Discuss 0 — Variant: Not specified
Finalist
Voting points1st2nd3rd
266 x402 x1
Rating typeOverallQualityAccuracy
Entry2.883.00 (11 ratings)2.75 (8 ratings)
Entry tagging:
 
 
  • 6 users entered 10 "like" tags
  • 7 users agreed with "likes" (8 total agrees)
  • 4 users disagreed with "likes" (5 total disagrees)
+4
ébruiter
Good term selection
Cédric Peeters
-3
+1
1
pianoter
Good term selection
"pianoter ​inutilemen​t"... j'ad​ore!
Reuben Wright
pianoter inutilement
Flows well
Bien expri​mé!
Damas Nembot
-2
+2
1
Mais force a été de constater
Flows well
Cédric Peeters
Le Dr
Good term selection
Merci ​d'a​vo​ir ​uti​li​sé ​"Le​ ​Dr" ​plu​tô​t que ​​juste ​"Dr​".
Damien Poussier
dotés
Good term selection
Reuben Wright
tempérer la froideur
Good term selection
OpheliaBrunello
intrinsèque
Good term selection
Reuben Wright
Entry #24968 — Discuss 0 — Variant: Belgian
Finalist
Voting points1st2nd3rd
213 x43 x23 x1
Rating typeOverallQualityAccuracy
Entry3.273.14 (7 ratings)3.40 (5 ratings)
Entry tagging:
 
 
  • 6 users entered 11 "like" tags
  • 3 users agreed with "likes" (11 total agrees)
  • 3 users disagreed with "likes" (4 total disagrees)
-1
+2
1
aissant dès lors d’innombrables passants s’acharner en vain
Flows well
Laura Guivel
+2
désormais inutiles
Good term selection
Cédric Peeters
-1
+1
1
s’est néanmoins avéré
Good term selection
Reuben Wright
+1
ne passe au vert
Flows well
Reuben Wright
-1
1
Le Dr
Good term selection
Merci ​d'a​vo​ir ​uti​li​sé ​"Le​ ​Dr" ​plu​tô​t que ​​juste ​"Dr​".
Damien Poussier
+1
«
Other
En effet, ​il me semb​le que les​ guillemet​s sont néc​essaires.
Jocelyne Cuenin
+1
sauvegarder
Good term selection
"sauvegard​er" plutôt​ qu'"enreg​istrer"
Helene Carrasco-Nabih
+1
contrer la froideur propre au monde des machines.
Flows well
Helene Carrasco-Nabih
+2
froideur propre au monde des machines.
Flows well
Laura Guivel
-1
1
placebo
Good term selection
Reuben Wright
néfaste
Good term selection
Reuben Wright
Entry #25381 — Discuss 0 — Variant: Standard-France
Finalist
Voting points1st2nd3rd
203 x43 x22 x1
Rating typeOverallQualityAccuracy
Entry3.433.42 (12 ratings)3.44 (9 ratings)
Entry tagging:
 
 
  • 5 users entered 13 "like" tags
  • 3 users agreed with "likes" (3 total agrees)
  • 3 users disagreed with "likes" (3 total disagrees)
+1
new-yorkaises
Flows well
SOUNDS MOR​E NATURAL
ormiston
+1
poussant
Flows well
"poussant"​ est bienv​enu.
Helene Carrasco-Nabih
-1
ces boutons ont dû leur survie aux
Flows well
Flows well​ !
Helene Carrasco-Nabih
il s'est avéré
Flows well
Elisabeth Fournier
israélienne
Flows well
plutôt que​ : "en Isr​aël"
Helene Carrasco-Nabih
seraient en effet
Flows well
Elisabeth Fournier
passe au vert
Good term selection
Reuben Wright
les gens aiment avoir l'impression de contrôler les systèmes qu'ils utilisen
Flows well
Formule si​mple, préc​ise, qui s​onne bien.
Helene Carrasco-Nabih
M.
Good term selection
Jocelyne Cuenin
+1
«
Other
Il me semb​le que les​ guillemet​s sont néc​essaires.
Jocelyne Cuenin
-2
2
sauvegarder
Flows well
"Sauvegard​er" est pl​us idiomat​ique qu'"e​nregistrer​" en voc. ​informatiq​ue.
Helene Carrasco-Nabih
qu'ils se sentent donc lésés par cette supercherie l'emporterait désormais sur les effets positifs.
Flows well
Flows well​!
Helene Carrasco-Nabih
supercherie
Flows well
Elisabeth Fournier


Non-finalist entries

The following entries were not selected by peers to advance to finals-round voting.

Entry #25325 — Discuss 0 — Variant: Not specified
Rating typeOverallQualityAccuracy
Entry2.802.80 (5 ratings)2.80 (5 ratings)
Entry tagging:
 
 
  • 1 user entered 1 "like" tag
contrecarrer la froideur inhérente au monde des machines.
Flows well
OpheliaBrunello