So the above video was posted on a blog that I read quite often from a designer in frankfurt questioning the linear process that occurs when working toward any design solution. He questions why we design in this way, if is seems so unnatural for us to follow a linear path when we are not presented with a set destination.
He comments on wether it makes sense for us to design in such a fashion as often the process that we undergo to create ideas and solutions for our design problems are not linear, but often cyclical, random, and completely unstructured.
I am currently putting together some models for confirmatory bias in design, both how it affects the client and the creative and thought this was a nice metaphor for the design process in general, and well linked to confirmation bias.
Michael Shermer’s analogy to the ‘twirling of the cognitive kaleidoscope’ comes to mind when watching the paths that the subjects of the video take, until a solution is found that both fulfills the breif, and satisfies our personal opinions about it. Eventually ofcourse we find our destinations in the form of design outcomes unlike the unfortunate subjects in the video above.
As the client presence in the process builds, and more constraints are placed on creative outcomes we are pulled onto a straighter paths and perhaps lose this random, cyclical flow and end up producing predictable outcomes to fulfill our clients needs.
This book is not a destination; it is a starting point, or a stepping-stone if you will in the exploration of Confirmatory Bias in design.
The psychology of design has always intrigued me, and has led me in part to this study. Understanding the how and why of design at the most basic of levels is surely the starting point for the creative in any discipline. With out them we are collectively taking shots in the dark as to what will appease a client, or fulfil a brief without fully understanding the psychological processes at play, both in our minds, and the clients, consciously or subconsciously.
Ever had a really great idea, pitched it to a client, only for them you turn around and destroy its very soul?
The next 45 pages will begin to explain the psychological processes behind why this happens, and how you can begin to avoid it in the future.
Confirmation Bias by definition is the theory that we interpret information based on preconceived ideas that we already hold about the subject or on the information in question. The theory has been suggested, explored and debated since the 17th century, when Francis Bacon stated “it is a habit of mankind [..] to use sovereign reason to thrust aside what they do not fancy.”
The theory has been successfully applied to science, religion, in relation to politics, and judicial systems it is about time it is applied to the world of design. The way we approach, create, interpret and view design has been transformed over the past decade by the development of technology, and in the last 6-7 years by the development of social media.
Gone are the days of artistic movements, which shaped cultures, fashions, social norms and design without any great commercial incentives. We are now in a world where the majority of design is created to fulfil commercial client briefs, to entertain ideals of corporate executives, or to generate income, and not to create really great aesthetics or change opinion, even if it intended to initially.
The majority of people who view these designs, and promote them through social media (who are not designers) take them as being normal professional design outputs produced by designers, and perceive them as good design when in reality, a lot of the time they are not. The monotony of commercial design is inescapable and apparent across all disciplines from whimpy homes to high street fashion.
Where does Confirmation Bias fit into this?
Well, in light of the definition above, if we say that the majority of the public perceive the plethora of media that we are exposed to each day as being good professional design, their subconscious cognitive process (see poster below) then rewards them for recognizing it as good design and then seeks it out next time around. Each time this process occurs they are confirming a bias toward the media they perceive and as to what constitutes good professional design. So my question is, through this bias, is our (as designers) ability to creatively and originally engage with the public on a large scale becoming limited?
There are obviously a lot of unexplained points in this excerpt, but I will expand on many of these points throughout the duration of this blog, if you have any comments or questions please add them.
This is the blog of a final year University student, looking at the psychology of design, in particular the way we interpret information, design and aesthetics in general.
One post a day over the next 39 days, will begin to explain the theory of Confirmation Bias and what it is, and how it relates to the world of design and aesthetics in general. if you have any questions about the subject, or about anything I post, please email me at email@example.com