When we design anything, whether it’s user experiences, gaming experiences, or even just Lego buildings – we get emotionally involved in what we do. We invest ourselves in the process and its results.
For this reason, it can be very difficult for us to accept someone who tells us they think we might be wrong. When they tell us you had to use 4 block and not 6 block on that side of the wall to make it stronger, but we actually finished the wall – the last thing we want to accept is that they might be right and taking the wall separation will result in a better end model! So we engage in our own “confirmation bias” to help justify continuing down the wrong path.
But what is confirmation bias?
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines confirmation bias as:
Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out rather than reject information that supports an individual’s preconceptions, usually by interpreting evidence to confirm existing beliefs while rejecting or ignoring any conflicting data.
Basically, refusing to accept you might be wrong even though there is any evidence that might prove that you are! As an insanely successful investor Warren Buffett
The best a person can do is interpret all the new information so that their previous conclusions remain the same.
So, going back to our Lego example, even though all the evidence would say block 4 is better where you put block 6, you won’t change the design because you “know you’re right”. In fact, all that happens is your brain says “Hey, I invested time and effort into building this wall, there’s no way I’m going to disassemble it now because few people say I’m wrong. In fact, if you look at it, I think it’s much better as it is, He looks prettier and I’m sure he’s stronger.”
Loss aversion plays a strong role there, too. You have invested time and effort and you don’t want to feel wasted because you were wrong and may have to start over.
How do we avoid confirmation bias and accept that we are wrong?
This is the basic question, which we need to break down to avoid confirmation bias and accept error.
Two very useful quotes here. I from my husband’s father!
When you are absolutely sure that you are right, consider the possibility that you are wrong.
The second is from Aubrey De Graf, an English author and biomedical genealogist.
Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent so much time making the mistake.
So we can avoid confirmation bias by listening to those around us, adopting their opinions, and using the facts presented to challenge rather than reinforce our existing assumptions. It may be that then, I was really right the whole time, but at least you’ll know for sure! I find that asking my wife what she thinks of the things I do can work wonders – she will be 100% honest with me. Of course, we should always go back to users to check our assumptions. It’s easy to do an initial research, and then come up with an idea You are I think it’s wonderful. You should constantly return to user groups and test your hypotheses and adapt your design to the new fix Information.
The key is an open mind. You may be wrong. It might not be. You won’t know until you test and challenge your ideas. If I’m wrong, be adaptable. Safely embrace new information knowing you’ll build something better by incorporating it rather than ignoring it!
If we combine these ideas, we have a very useful general rule of thumb for questioning ourselves during the process of designing anything.
No matter how invested you are in your past actions, always be open to information that challenges your assumptions, the possibility that you may be wrong, and the need to be able to adapt moving forward.
It was also published on Medium.