Hi. let’s explore how bias can get in the way. In this video, we’re going to discuss how bias specifically affects design work. We’ll examine six kinds of biases: confirmation bias, false consensus bias, primacy bias, recency bias, implicit bias, and the sunk cost fallacy.

To begin, let’s define the word bias. In short, a bias is favoring or having a prejudice against something based on limited information. It’s like making up your mind about someone before you’ve really gotten to know them. We all have biases, and they’re often unconscious. While we can’t completely get rid of biases, we can be more aware of them and work to overcome them. In UX design, this is critical to product success and to your professional development. Everything we’ve learned so far has shown us that we aren’t the user. We’ve also learned how important it is to put ourselves in our user’s shoes when making design decisions. Biases can really get in the way of doing this. Later, we’ll get into the details of how this all applies to your work. The first bias to be aware of is confirmation bias. This bias occurs when you start looking for evidence to prove a hypothesis you have. Because you think you already have the answer, you’re drawn to information that confirms your beliefs and preconceptions. Let’s say you have the preconception that left-handed people are more creative than right-handed people. As you research, you’ll tend to gravitate toward evidence that supports this belief, and you’ll use it to build your case, even though it’s not necessarily true.

One of the most effective methods for overcoming confirmation bias during research is to ask open-ended questions when conducting interviews. An open-ended question lets the person being interviewed answer freely, instead of with a yes or no. You also want to get into the habit of actively listening without adding your own opinions. That means you aren’t leading your interviewees toward the answer that you want them to give. Another way to avoid confirmation bias is to include a large sample of users. Make sure you’re not just looking for a small group of people who fit your preconceived ideas. You want to have a big sample of users with diverse perspectives. Next step, let’s look at the false consensus bias, which is the assumption that others will think the same way as you do. In UX research, the false consensus bias happens when we overestimate the number of people who will agree with our idea or design, which creates a false consensus. It’s possible for the false consensus to go so far as to assume anyone who doesn’t agree with you is abnormal. You can avoid false consensus bias by identifying and articulating your assumptions.

For example, you might live in a community that often identifies with certain political beliefs. When you meet a new person, you might assume they share your political beliefs, because you both live in the same town. But that isn’t necessarily true. Finding a few people who do align with your beliefs and assuming they represent the entire community is a false consensus. That’s another reason to survey large groups of people. Another kind of bias that affects designers is the recency bias. That’s when it’s easiest to remember the last thing you heard in an interview, conversation, or similar setting because it’s the most recent. When talking to someone, you’re more likely to remember things they shared at the end of the conversation.

To overcome the recency bias, you can take detailed notes or recordings for each interview or conversation you have. This way, you can review what people said at the start of the conversation in case you don’t remember. UX designers may also struggle with primacy bias, where you remember the first participant most strongly. Sometimes the first person you meet makes the strongest impression because you’re in a new situation or having a new experience. The primacy bias, like the recency bias, is another reason to take detailed notes or recordings, so you can review everything that happened, not just the memorable first impressions. Recency and primacy biases also demonstrate why you should interview each participant in the same way. Consistency makes it easier to compare and contrast over time. Consistency makes it more likely that you’ll remember the unusual and important moments that happen throughout your research. The next form of bias we’ll cover is implicit bias, which is also known as unconscious bias. Implicit bias is a collection of attitudes and stereotypes we associate with people without our conscious knowledge. One of the most common forms of implicit bias in UX is when we only interview people within a limited set of identity profiles, such as race, age, gender, socioeconomic status, and ability. These profiles are generally based on assumptions we have about certain types of people. For example, implicit bias might cause you to feel uncomfortable interviewing people whose life experiences are different from your own.

On the other hand, we might choose to interview people from typically excluded groups but then ask potentially offensive questions because of our internalized stereotypes. Both of these scenarios are problematic and lead to a lack of representation in our research and design process. The most important thing to note about implicit biases is that everybody has them. To overcome our biases, we can reflect on our behaviors, and we can ask others to point our implicit biases. That’s one of the best ways we can become aware of our biases. The last form of bias we’ll cover is the sunk cost fallacy. This is the idea that the deeper we get into a project we’ve invested in, the harder it is to change course without feeling like we’ve failed or wasted time. The phrase “sunk cost” refers to the time we’ve already spent or sunk into a project or activity. For example, you might think to yourself, I might as well keep watching this terrible movie because I’ve watched an hour of it already. For UX designers, the sunk cost fallacy comes into play when working on a design. You might have invested hours into designing a new feature, but then learned that the feature doesn’t really address a user problem. It’s easy to keep working on a design that you’ve invested time into. But ultimately, you need to focus on work that positively impacts users.

To avoid the sunk cost fallacy, break down your project into smaller phases, and then outline designated points where you can decide whether to continue or stop. This allows you to go back based on new insights before the project gets too far along. You’re now familiar with the most common forms of bias in user research. It’s important to know that there are other biases we haven’t covered here. Bias is a limitation that extends well beyond the fields of UX design and user research. They can creep into the ways we make friends, manage projects at work, and communicate with family members. Now that you know about these biases, you might even start noticing them in your daily life. The more that identifying bias becomes a habit, the better you’ll get at avoiding bias in your design process. As UX designers, we want to prevent biases from getting in the way of accurate research. You can always refer back to the glossary if you need a refresher about these biases and their definitions. Keep these tips in mind for overcoming biases, and you’ll be on your way.