Presentation Title: Cognitive Biases in Testing
Company: Oracle India Pvt. Ltd.
Most QA methodologies & test strategies assume a rational
tester, who takes logical calls on developing test-cases,
allocating resources, reviewing & reporting issues etc. And at
the end of a cycle she introspects what went right and more
importantly, what went wrong and new development / test process and
strategies evolve. But research shows that this rational tester is
a figment of our imagination and all testers are susceptible to a
gamut of behavioral/psychological factors that influence & bias
their ability to take right decisions.
In general a tester develops opinions regarding how things should
look, how things should behave, and the overall end user
experience. These cognitive biases make up the filter between what
actually exists, and what she perceives to be true. The task of
testing should attempt to realize and recognize a tester's
cognitive biases, and rationalizations of decisions that made based
on those biases.
This talk borrows from behavioral economic theory (presented in
popular books like Sway, Predictably irrational & Blink) and
examines how these factors influence a tester's behavior in
irrational (but predictable) ways. This talk explores the impact of
some of these behaviors (biases) like, Loss aversion,
Procrastination & self control, Effect of expectations, Price
of ownership, Asymmetric dominance effect etc. on decisions that
testers make. It provides examples and cases from our experience
and also looks at approaches we can take to protect us from falling
victim to these cognitive biases..
What are cognitive biases and how they affect rational decision
making? What are biases that can affect you as a tester? How can
you protect yourself from falling victim to some common cognitive
bias 'traps' ?
I am Srikanth Krishnan from India, I work with Oracle India and
I manage the EBS QA team. I would like to interest you in a talk
that I think the intelligent audience of EuroSTAR will find
interesting & useful.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
Ogilvy supposedly said ""Half of advertising dollars go to
waste. The problem is in identifying which half! ". Do you feel
that the same is true for testing?
You make a totally rational pitch based on facts/data & find
your customers/management take decision based on "gut-feel"?
Know of any testers who are so emotionally invested in their
tests or product areas that they miss things that are blindingly
obvious beyond their boundaries?
Do you feel that irrespective of the deadline most testing
happen close to the cut-off?
Ever wonder how your expectation of the quality of product seems
to come true so often that it seems a little too good to be
Do you feel having more choices (tools, test plans, environments
etc.) don't necessarily translate into better outcomes?
Do you find that your management/customer seems to remember that
one bug that you missed but forget the 100's that you caught?
If you found yourself nodding in agreement to one or more of the
You need to vote for this talk
In this talk I will dive into some of the concepts from
Behavioral economics & draw parallels with testing.
I will break the myth that we all consider to be true ie., we
are rational human beings making data based decisions that maximize
our desired outcome.
I will share how we predictably make in-correct decisions, and the
patterns underlying such biases.
I will highlight some of the cognitive biases testers (or even
developers for that matter) fall prey to and what it means for your
I will also show how you can leverage some of the biases to your
advantage in nudging people towards outcomes that you would
And finally we will explore some ways in which you can sensitize
yourself to such "black-holes", mitigate them and manage the risk
around such biases.
Give me your feedback
While this is the overarching story arc for my talk, I am open
to suggestions & feedback. If there are specific areas that
interest you, that you would like to hear more about or have any
ideas suggestion on how this talk can be of more value to you,
please let me know. I am happy to engage with you in the comments
section and see what best I can do.
Srikranth Krishnan is the Senior Director and head of Quality
Assurance organization for Ebusiness Suite of applications at
Oracle Corporation. He has been with Oracle for the last 10 years.
Prior to Oracle he was with ABS Dubai as a consultant and
Applications Engineer at Sundaram Clayton. Sundaram Clayton
was the first winner of the Deming prize for quality in India.
Srikanth is an executive committee Chairperson of STeP-IN
Hyderabad. He is a lifelong learner whose diverse interests include
photography, gardening, technology, management, and travel.