SIGIA-L Mail Archives: [Sigia-l] Questioning common test script
[Sigia-l] Questioning common test scripting
From: InfoArchitect (InfoArchitect_at_ourbrisbane.com)
Date: Mon Jun 09 2003 - 21:19:42 EDT
Hey all (please excuse any cross posts),
I've just been reviewing/comparing some common usability testing
techniques and have come across a pattern that surprised me. When
preparing participants, how many of you include "We are not testing
you" in your script?
The concept behind this scripting is sound - to put the participant at
ease, conveying that you are not in fact testing the user, but the
system. If test subjects are not at ease during user testing, the
data will be confounded.
Unfortunately, this technique is inconsistent with the research of
Wegner (1994) who has shown that "not thinking" about certain things
can be taxing, if not impossible when specifically directed. The part
of his research that interests me is his famous "White Bear" challenge
(often used as a child’s joke). He directed his subjects to NOT
think of a white bear. Wegner found that thought suppression actually
increases the likelihood of thinking about the suppressed image and
can extract an autonomic cost. The subjects could not help but
immediately visualise the white bear.
Thus, I propose that using (what seems to be) the very common
scripting of “We are NOT testing you” does the opposite of what it is
trying to do. Upon being presented with this stimulus, participants
should, in fact feel that they are the ones being tested, and will not
act in a natural manner, confounding the results.
If some of you don't use this wording, how do you convey the fact that
you are testing the system and not the user?
(Oh, and for the interest of keeping the discussion ‘on topic’, let’s
assume that this statement is posed during a field test, in the
participant’s natural environment. I don’t want to go through a
debate on environment, context or habituation.)
I'll be interested to see what comes of this.
User Experience Designer
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