The Theory of Performance Load

Week Three – Question One :

This expositive extract by (Lidwell, Holden, & Butler, Performance Load, 2003) explores the ideas surrounding the theory of performance loads. Performance loads involves the mental and physical actions required to achieve the task convoluted. The theory is that if the performance load required is high there is weaker chance that the job will be completed at a satisfied level, with dependence that if a design is less dependent there is a greater chance the task will be completed well and with grander quality. There are two types of performance loads that affect the overall outcome; Cognitive Loads and Kinematic Loads.

Cognitive Load is in reference to the efforts taken mentally to complete a task. This involves the use of memory, problem solving and perceptions. According to (Sweller, Ayres, Kalyuga, & Slava, 2011) Cognitive load theory undertakes the individual’s capabilities are challenged not when the topic is difficult rather when the design and materials are too complex regardless of the individual’s knowledge and strategies. “Cognitive load theory is a comprehensive and proven instructional theory that illustrates ways to reduce unproductive forms of cognitive load and … maximize productive sources … that lead to efficient learning environments.” (Clark, R, Nguyen, F, & Sweller, J, 2011)

Kinematic load refers to the concept of physical efforts being direct to the success of the desired goal. If the steps needed to complete a task is minimised then the time spent is too, making the task easier and faster to do so. There are various strategies which may be implemented to reach these success levels, these include; ( (Lidwell, Holden, & Butler, Performance Load, 2003)

  • Reducing steps
  • Restricting motion and distance
  • Automation of tasks

An example is the introduction of the Morse code system replacing the belonged tradition of telegraph mechanical armature, implies less physical energy while creating greater results.


Karasek, R. (1979). JOURNAL ARTICLE Job Demands, Job Decision Latitude, and Mental Strain: Implications for Job Redesign. Administrative Science Quarterly, 24, 285-308.

Agostinho, S., Tindall-Ford, S., & Roodenrys, K. (2011). Using computer-based tools to self manage cognitive load. Wollongong: University of Wollongong.

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Performance Load. Universal Principles of Design, 148‐149.

Sweller, Ayres, J., Kalyuga, P., & Slava. (2011). Cognitive Load Theory. 237-242.

Sweller, J. (1988). ognitive load during problem solving: Effects on learning, Cognitive Science. 257-285.

Images :

HuffPost (2011)

Tamsin McMahon (2014)

Diane Paddison (2015)


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