Adopting a User Experience mindset will help you to make better decisions.

I’m glad I attended TEDxLondon 2019 «Beyond Borders». There were so many ideas and stories I found deeply inspiring. Among those, there was one from the neuroscientist Dr. Kris De Meyer that pushed me to think: proving yourself wrong will make you more…right.

Dr. De Meyer explains how we tend to justify our decisions and to advocate for them, almost preaching, to gain consensus in our close circle and to demonstrate how right we are.

He illustrates this process with a pyramid. At first, when we still have to make our mind on something (on who to vote, what city to move in, what job offer to accept,…) we are at the peak of the pyramid. The moment we take a decision we start to look for confirmations about the good quality of it, we dismiss everything that disproves it and we start to advocate for it. So we go down one side of the pyramid, while we try to gain consensus: we look for approval and confirmation from others too.

Dr. De Meyer shows the distribution of our audience before and after we start trying to bring more people on our side.

At this point, the majority of our audience doesn’t have a strong opinion. Once we start to try to convince them, here is what happens.

The audience gets polarised: we draw some to our side but we also push others further away from us.

Once we made our decision, we basically look only at the information that confirms it and we can’t help being puzzled at someone who can not be convinced by the same information we have. We are right, they are wrong. It’s our unconscious confirmation bias that doesn’t allow us to make space for alternative perspectives.

So why do I think that proving us wrong makes us more..right?

When we make our minds on a subject, we are affected by the confirmation bias that doesn’t allow us to see any other alternatives: only confirmations of what we believe to be true. What if we actively tried to prove that what we believe to be true is actually false?

If we start with the goal to prove ourselves wrong, we will need to ask honest questions and be openminded while hearing the answers. A bit like when user testing: we want people to love our design, but more than that, we want to know the truth and make sure that we will launch a successful experience.

Being openminded will also allow us to actually listen to other people and this has a double effect: 1. people feel heard and understood and they will be more likely to be openminded too and reflect on their beliefs as well: you have established a connection, you might be able to convince them; 2. you might change your mind. Yes, you might actually adopt another perspective and have the opportunity to look further ahead then what you initially thought was your horizon.

Either way, you won.

Keep an eye to the talks of TEDxLondon2019, I hope they will be soon published.