Yeah yeah yeah! I understand that you liked the product and identify it as super helpful! Now tell me loopholes as well please 🤷🏻♀️.
Have you ever conducted a usability test or survey where participants only give positive responses? This happens when your participants want to look good in the eyes of others. Such a type of bias is called Social desirability bias. It occurs when participants respond in ways that they feel are more appropriate & acceptable to the researcher or business. Even if untruthful. This happens especially when the content is of a sensitive nature.
Due to social desirability bias, the results may lead you in the wrong direction. As a result, business goals and plans will be affected and you may find yourself unable to meet your customers’ expectations.
- Empathize with participants– Try to build a rapport to make participants as comfortable as possible. They may feel nervous in lab settings. Make it very clear that the data is anonymous and confidential.
- Ask indirect questions — Instead of asking how the user feels about a feature, you can ask “How do you think an average user would interact with this feature?”. This way, they won’t feel the urge to appear as nice and friendly.
- Give space to participants– Ask the researcher to turn away or leave the room when the participant fills out the automated or paper survey. So, the researcher does not see the post-test responses until after the participant has left.
- Anonymity- Making the anonymous survey may elicit an honest reaction. This can be achieved by assigning numbers to participants.
- Take-home survey– Ask participants in a usability test to complete the post-test survey after they get back to their office or home. Ask them to acknowledge once they complete the surveys and then researchers can send the rewards. The only drawback is that researchers may have some dropoffs in surveys.
- Follow-ups – Use conflicting questions as follow-ups to verify the legitimacy of the participant’s responses.
We may not eliminate the bias entirely but we can definitely try to reduce it as much as we can. As a researcher, it is important to educate on the psychological principles that affect the quality of work we do. Remember, the collected data is not helpful without validity & the ability to synthesize and take action.
Here is the suggested reading list, if you’d like to dig deeper:
Biases and Heuristics by Henry Priest
Everyday Bias by Howard J. Ross
Read the full article here