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Cognitive Bias and the Design Process

Jon Yablonski
September 25, 2022

Cognitive Bias and the Design Process

At any given moment we’re faced with countless bits of information to process so that we can form judgments, make decisions, and get through the day. We’ve developed mental shortcuts to avoid becoming overwhelmed but these shortcuts have a downside: they often lead to fallacious reasoning and unintended results. Designers are just as vulnerable to the blindspots and fallacies that come with cognitive bias as the people who use the products and services we design. It’s impossible to eliminate biases, but we can seek to understand them and identify how they might impact our design decisions. This talk explores the cognitive biases I’ve experienced first-hand when building products and experiences as well as strategies for mitigating their influence.

Jon Yablonski

September 25, 2022
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  1. Cognitive Bias and the
    Design Process
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    A U G 2 0 2 2

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  2. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    C H E C K E R S H A D O W I L L U S I O N

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  3. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    C H E C K E R S H A D O W I L L U S I O N

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  4. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    S E A T H E A D I L L U S I O N

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  5. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Unlike visual illusions, cognitive illusions can be
    much harder to see.

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  6. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    C O G N I T I V E B I A S C O D E X B Y : J O H N M A N O O G I A N I I I J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M

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  7. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    System 2 System 1

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  8. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    System 2 System 1

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  9. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    System 2 System 1

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  10. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    It’s equally important that we understand the
    impact bias has on us, our teams and ultimately
    the products & services that we build.

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  11. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    “The best we can do is a compromise: learn to
    recognize situations in which mistakes are likely
    and try harder to avoid significant mistakes
    when the stakes are high.”
    D A N I E L K A H N E M A N

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  12. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Key Biases
    SURVIVORSHIP BIAS CONFIRMATION BIAS FRAMING EFFECT AVAILABILITY
    HEURISTIC
    FALSE-CONSENSUS
    EFFECT

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  13. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Survivorship Bias
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    B I A S 1

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  14. We have a tendency to concentrate on the
    people or things that made it past a selection
    process and overlook those that do not, typically
    because of their lack of visibility.
    S U R V I V O R S H I P B I A S
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M

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  15. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M

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  16. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    S U R V I V O R S H I P B I A S

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  17. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    S U R V I V O R S H I P B I A S
    Ummm…what
    about the planes
    that didn’t make
    it back?
    A B R A H A M W A L D

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  18. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    S U R V I V O R S H I P B I A S

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  19. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    What does this
    have to do with
    design?

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  20. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    S U R V I V O R S H I P B I A S

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  21. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M

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  22. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Consider what you
    don’t see
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    S U R V I V O R S H I P B I A S

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  23. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Centralize edge cases
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    S U R V I V O R S H I P B I A S

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  24. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Confirmation Bias
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    C O N F I R M A T I O N B I A S
    B I A S 2

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  25. We tend to search for, interpret, favor, and recall
    information in a way that confirms or supports
    our prior beliefs or values.
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    C O N F I R M A T I O N B I A S

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  26. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    C O N F I R M A T I O N B I A S

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  27. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    C O N F I R M A T I O N B I A S

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  28. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    What does this
    have to do with
    design?
    C O N F I R M A T I O N B I A S

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  29. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    C O N F I R M A T I O N B I A S

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  30. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    C O N F I R M A T I O N B I A S

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  31. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Research rather
    than validate
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    C O N F I R M A T I O N B I A S

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  32. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Triangulate research
    methods
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    C O N F I R M A T I O N B I A S

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  33. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Red team,


    blue team
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    C O N F I R M A T I O N B I A S

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  34. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Framing Effect
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    B I A S 3

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  35. We tend to make decisions based on whether
    the options are presented with positive or
    negative connotations; e.g. as a loss or as a gain.
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    F R A M I N G E F F E C T

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  36. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    F R A M I N G E F F E C T J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M

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  37. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    F R A M I N G E F F E C T
    FRAMING CHOICE DESCRIPTION
    P O S I T I V E T R E A T M E N T A S A V E S 2 0 0 L I V E S O U T O F 6 0 0
    N E G A T I V E T R E A T M E N T B 4 0 0 P E O P L E W I L L D I E O U T O F 6 0 0

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  38. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    FRAMING CHOICE DESCRIPTION
    P O S I T I V E T R E A T M E N T A S A V E S 2 0 0 L I V E S O U T O F 6 0 0
    N E G A T I V E T R E A T M E N T B 4 0 0 P E O P L E W I L L D I E O U T O F 6 0 0
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    F R A M I N G E F F E C T
    7 2 %

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  39. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    What does this
    have to do with
    design?

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  40. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    F R A M I N G E F F E C T

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  41. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    N I E L S E N N O R M A N G R O U P
    4 out of 20 users could not
    fi
    nd the
    search function on the website
    16 out of 20 users found the search
    function on the website
    N E G A T I V E P O S I T I V E

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  42. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    N I E L S E N N O R M A N G R O U P
    3 1 %

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  43. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Avoid leading questions
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    F R A M I N G E F F E C T

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  44. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Gather more context
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    F R A M I N G E F F E C T

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  45. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Switch up your


    point-of-view
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    F R A M I N G E F F E C T

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  46. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Availability Heuristic
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    B I A S 4

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  47. We tend to rely on immediate examples that
    come to a given person’s mind when evaluating
    a specific topic, concept, method, or decision.
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    A V A I L A B I L I T Y H E U R I S T I C

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  48. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M

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  49. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    What does this
    have to do with
    design?

    View full-size slide

  50. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    A V A I L A B I L I T Y H E U R I S T I C

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  51. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Why can’t we just design it like


    [insert company name] does it?
    A V A I L A B I L I T Y H E U R I S T I C

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  52. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Use reason over recall
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    A V A I L A B I L I T Y H E U R I S T I C

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  53. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Measure what matters
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    A V A I L A B I L I T Y H E U R I S T I C

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  54. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    False-Consensus
    Effect
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    B I A S 5

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  55. We have a tendency to assume that our
    personal qualities, characteristics, beliefs, and
    actions are relatively widespread through the
    general population.
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    F A L S E - C O N S E N S U S E F F E C T

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  56. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M

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  57. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    What does this
    have to do with
    design?
    F A L S E - C O N S E N S U S E F F E C T

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  58. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    F A L S E - C O N S E N S U S E F F E C T

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  59. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Acknowledge that you
    are not the user
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    F A L S E - C O N S E N S U S E F F E C T

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  60. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Always test with


    real users
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    F A L S E - C O N S E N S U S E F F E C T

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  61. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Identify your
    assumptions
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    F A L S E - C O N S E N S U S E F F E C T

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  62. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    Key Biases
    SURVIVORSHIP BIAS CONFIRMATION BIAS FRAMING EFFECT AVAILABILITY
    HEURISTIC
    FALSE-CONSENSUS
    EFFECT

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  63. J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    It’s impossible to eliminate biases, but we can
    seek to understand them and identify how they
    might impact our design decisions.

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  64. Thank you
    J O N Y A B L O N S K I | J O N Y A B L O N S K I . C O M
    📙 D E S I G N I N G F O R C O G N I T I V E B I A S


    📙 T H I N K I N G , F A S T A N D S L O W


    👩💻 B I A S E D B Y D E S I G N . C O M
    R E C O M M E N D E D R E S O U R C E S

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