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Know Thyself, and To Thine Users Be True: Understanding and Managing Biases that Can Influence UX Work


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Presented by Design for Context's Karen Bachmann at the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA) Conference June 28, 2018, in Puerto Rico.

Despite our best intentions, UX practitioners are subject to hidden biases and barriers as any of our fellow humans. It’s more important than ever to understand our own biases to make sure we can be most effective in our communication and our design work. Increasing application of AI and machine learning as well as ever increasing amounts of data on people particularly are areas where hidden and unmitigated biases can create bad and even harmful outcomes. We explore ways to discover and discuss biases constructively before they undermine work, look at case studies of products that suffered from hidden biases, and consider pragmatic approaches to manage their influence in our projects.

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Know Thyself, and To Thine Users Be True: Understanding and Managing Biases that Can Influence UX Work

  1. 1. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 1 Know thyself and to thine users be true: Understanding and managing biases that can influence UX work Karen Bachmann ™ @karenbachmann UXPA 2018 Puerto Rico #UXPA18
  2. 2. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 ● How to have non-threatening and productive discussions ● Tools for identifying our biases ● Tools to manage biases ● Bringing our new awareness into our design practice What we will discuss 2
  3. 3. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 Awareness, ourselves and our colleagues Exposure to other perspectives Connection with our own humanity What do we need most
  4. 4. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 4 “When you know better, you do better.” - Betty Easterly
  5. 5. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 5 An approachable definition of bias ● How should we talk about biases to ensure a non- threatening and productive discussion? A LITTLE BACKGROUND
  6. 6. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 6 No longer a mystery “why” it matters
  7. 7. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 Bias: A Mental Shortcut 7 ● Part of being human ● Kahneman’s System 1 ● Not inherently bad, may be misapplied ● Implicit = invisible ● Not necessarily in sync with our conscious beliefs ● Can be managed and changed
  8. 8. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 SO MANY BIASES! 8
  9. 9. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 Do you see what I see? 9 How do you describe this … without any presuppositions? Objectivity is more elusive than we want – or like – to admit to ourselves. Image:
  10. 10. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 Addressing bias is not uniquely a UX challenge 10 Healthcare Business Government Law enforcement Safety Data science Technology Journalism Entertainment UX Research & Design Science
  11. 11. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 11 Building awareness and knowing ourselves ● How can we best identify the biases within ourselves and our teams? ● What tools and processes to control for bias we can introduce into our processes? ● Where do biases emerge in our work? KNOWING OURSELVES
  12. 12. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 Start with understanding your own bias Don’t fall into the illusion of complete objectivity Don’t be afraid to acknowledge bias Know thyself
  13. 13. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 ● Provide the tools for mindfulness and self-awareness as well as building team awareness ● Acknowledge your own biases and be open to learning more ● Establish clear goals to understand biases and why it matters to the team and to your work ● Establish communication ground rules ● Use the ability to see the biases of others with empathy and compassion Discussions with the team 13
  14. 14. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 12 steps from #uxchat ● Encourage diversity ● Step back from your ego ● Always be talking to others ● Self-examination ● Beware of “groupthink” ● Uncover biases as early as possible ● Bring in a moderator ● Be transparent ● Be inclusive ● Focus on the data ● Encourage safe spaces and secure channels ● Have empathy, always 14 (now part of UserZoom)
  15. 15. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 Detection Tools ● Changing decision making approach ● Pre-mortems ● Worst case scenario ● Multiple estimations -> designs ● Seek outside view ● Implicit Association Test ● Flip it to test it ● Invite examination and input from people who are not like “us” ● Appoint a Devil’s Diversity Advocate ● Slow down and reflect 15
  16. 16. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 16 MY IAT results on disability
  17. 17. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 ● What's your default mode for judgments and decisions? To find out, take this (very short) cognitive-reflection test, which was created by Shane Frederick at Yale and originally appeared in The Journal of Economic Perspectives. At the end, you’ll receive feedback on your answers and gain insight into how you arrived at them. ● A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? ● If it takes five machines five minutes to make five widgets, how many minutes would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets? ● In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how many days would it take for the patch to cover half the lake? Are you being tricked by intuition? 17
  18. 18. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 WHICH BIASES SHOULD WE LOOK FOR FIRST? 18 Confirmation bias Anchoring Implicit bias Ingroup/Outgroup Pro-Innovation Recency effect Overconfidence Backfire effect
  19. 19. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 19 Biases can emerge anywhere Research ● Recruiting ● Questions we ask ● Specific data we collect ● Conclusions and priority Design ● Target markets ● Types of interactions ● Visual design selections ● Technology selection
  20. 20. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 20 Controlling our biases in our work ● How do we monitor for regressing thinking and new biases throughout the design process? MINDFULNESS & MANAGEMENT
  21. 21. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 Mindfulness is a journey, not a destination
  22. 22. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 ● Make the detection tools part of the design process – not once and done ● Define goals and checks around identified biases ● Set objectives, check objectives ● Trip wires ● Watch for emergent “excuses” for regressing to System 1 thinking Integrating the tools for awareness 22
  23. 23. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 ● Establish a culture of questioning ● Listen for discord and regression ● Bias buddies ● Use technological aids where possible ● Communicate shared understanding continuously ● Be kind to each other Enabling communication 23
  24. 24. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 Awareness, ourselves and our colleagues Exposure to other perspectives Connection with our own humanity What do we need most
  25. 25. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 Cited resources These resources were directly incorporated in the presentation. ● B. Benson. “Cognitive bias cheat sheet.” (2016): ● J. Beshears, S. Frederick, and F. Gino “Test Yourself: Are You Being Tricked by Intuition?” Harvard Business Review. (2015): ● T. Bradberry. “13 Cognitive Biases That Really Screw Things Up For You.” (2018): really-screw-things-up-you-dr-travis-bradberry/ ● M. Funchess. “Implicit Bias -- how it effects us and how we push through.” TEDxFlourCity. (2014): ● E. Hall. “The 9 Rules of Design Research.” (2018): ● H.G. Halvorson. “How To Recognize (And Overcome) Your Unconscious Biases In Hiring.” Fast Company. (2015): ● S. Judd. “Superfan.” (2018): ● D. Kahneman. Thinking, Fast and Slow. (2011) ● T. Keereepart. “3 design principles to help us overcome everyday bias.” TEDxPortland. (2016): ● S. Lawrence-Lightfoot and J. Hoffmann Davis. The Art and Science of Portraiture. (1997): ● A.C. Madrigal. “Disposable America.” The Atlantic. (2018): america/563204/ 25
  26. 26. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 Cited resources (cont’d) ● P. McIntosh. "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" Peace and Freedom Magazine. (1989): ● K. Pressner. ”Are you biased? I am.” TEDxBasel. (2016): ● Project Implicit. (2011): ● C. Ratcliff. “12 ways to fight bias in your team” Synopsys of #uxchat on Twitter, hosted by K. Bachmann. (2018): ● S.E. Smith. “Why philosophy is so important in science education.” Quartz. (2017): important-in-science-education/ (Inspiration for the “Do you see” exercise on Slide 9) ● J.B. Soll, K.L. Milkman, and J.W. Payne. “Outsmart your own biases.” Harvard Business Review. (2015): ● S. Watcher-Boettcher. Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech. (2017): 26
  27. 27. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 These resources were not quoted or directly use for my presentation, but present ideas and examples that influenced my thinking and offer valuable, interesting insights. ● American Alliance of Museums. “Unconscious Bias and Personal Work.” (2018): accessibility-and-inclusion/facing-change-unconscious-bias-and-personal-work/ ● @BienSur_JeTaime. “One of the reasons for more ethnic diversity in tech. Devices can't be biased, but if the creators don't account for their own biases it shows up in things like Asian women being indistinguishable to iPhones and black hands not triggering sensors in soap machines.” (2017): ● S. Bradley. “All the creepy, crazy and amazing things that happened in AI in 2017.” Wired. (2017): ● G.L. Ciampaglia and F. Menczer. “Misinformation and biases infect social media, both intentionally and accidentally.” The Conversation. (2018): 97148 ● J. Clark. “Design in the Era of the Algorithm.” Presentation at Mind the Product, synopsis by J. Gadsby Peet. (2017): ● D. Chopra. “Does the Human Mind Need a Fresh Start?” (2017): human-mind-need-a-fresh-start/ ● R. Courtland. “Bias detectives: the researchers striving to make algorithms fair.” Nature. (2018): ● D. Gray. Liminal Thinking: Create the change you want by changing the way you think. (2016): Additional resources 27
  28. 28. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 ● M. Hartmann. “Unpacking the biases that shape our beliefs.” TEDxStJohns. (2015): ● N.A. Heflick. “We Are Blind to Our Own Biases.” Psychology Today. (2011): questions/201102/we-are-blind-our-own-biases ● D. Hernandez. “Unpacking and Transforming Your Biases For A Better Community.” TEDxSanAntonio. (2016): ● D. Hockett. “We all have implicit biases. So what can we do about it?” TEDxMidAtlanticSalon. (2017): ● C. Jager. “24 Cognitive Biases You Need To Stop Making [Infographic]” Lifehacker. (2018): ● T. Laurinavicius. “Cognitive Biases You Need to Master to Design Better Websites.” (2018): ● J. Lindzon. “This Brain Hack Will Help Reframe Your Interpretation Of Reality.” Fast Company. (2017): ● E. Livni. “The philosophy that could have stopped Silicon Valley’s crisis of conscience before it started.” Quartz. (2017): esalen-institute/ ● Microsoft. “Keeping an Eye on AI with Dr. Kate Crawford.” Microsoft Research Podcast. (2018): us/research/blog/keeping-an-eye-on-ai-with-dr-kate-crawford/?OCID=msr_podcast_kcrawford_tw Additional resources (cont’d) 28
  29. 29. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 ● Mind Tools. “Avoiding Psychological Bias in Decision Making: How to Make Objective Decisions.” (2018): ● Partnership on AI. (2016-1018): ● J. Powell. “It's About Time We Challenge Our Unconscious Biases.” TEDxStLouisWomen. (2016): ● J. Powles. “New York City’s Bold, Flawed Attempt to Make Algorithms Accountable.” The New Yorker. (2017): ● M.J. Socolow. “How to Prevent Smart People From Spreading Dumb Ideas.” The New York Times. (2018): ● J. Temperton. “DeepMind's new AI ethics unit is the company's next big move.” Wired UK. (2017): ● A. Thompson. “Google’s Sentiment Analyzer Thinks Being Gay Is Bad.” Motherboard. (2017): ● @sara_ann_marie. “the line from "look at our cool new facial-recognition app" to "wow this thing only works for white people" is a fucking millimeter long and clearly marked. why can't a single tech co seem to be able to see it?” (2018): ● M. Simmons. “Studies Show That People Who Have High ‘Integrative Complexity’ Are More Likely To Be Successful.” (2018): 443480e8930c Additional resources (cont’d) 29
  30. 30. @karenbachmann Know Thyself: Managing Bias #UXPA2018 30 Know thyself and to thine users be true Understanding and managing biases that can influence UX work UXPA • June 2018 slides will be posted at: Karen Bachmann ™ @karenbachmann UXPA 2018 Puerto Rico #UXPA18