Mapping biases

One of my favourite aspects of systems thinking was the consideration of thinking traps. It brings into play all kinds of problems with the way that humans consider information, and why we often grab the wrong end of a stick (the shitty end, usually).

Maaike Brinkhof has written a very nice blog post about mapping biases to testing, the first part of a longer series of posts. She writes about how a book by Daniel Kahneman – thinking fast and slow has encouraged her to consider how our preconceptions can affect our decision making. There’s a few bits about ‘system 1 and system 2’ thinking (which I’ve read about before somewhere) and there’s loads of good information for the considered tester.

By a total coincidence one of the other blogs I follow has also posted something about biases: Duck or Rabbit by What’s The PONT. I’m sure you’ve seen the duck/rabbit picture before, but there’s some discussion about how our biases/perspective might inform our views and decisions. This is also worth a read.

This is all important stuff. As noted in the second blog, knowing and doing are different things. We might think we know what we are doing in our work/life, but looking at the evidence for our activity in a different way might reveal more detail that we have missed. Maaike talks about heuristics in the first post, and these can be very helpful in guiding us to better decisions, by making us consider the less obvious (or knowledge blocked by our biases and perspectives).

For instance, I am more than aware that my negative feelings for Test Management application HP ALM mean that I cannot ever think it is the best tool for the job. I may be mistaken (but I don’t think so). Lots of people seem to use it, even giving it positive reviews. My biases inform me that they are all wrong, but maybe it’s me that cannot see the benefits?

I’ll be looking forward to the rest of the series by Maaike for sure. My testing friends should also read it (and What’s The Pont too – some excellent systems thinking posts there).

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