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Srikanth Krishnan’s Community Choice Submission

  • 02/05/2012
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

srikanth-krishnan_144x197Presentation Title: Cognitive Biases in Testing

Company: Oracle India Pvt. Ltd.

Country: India


Most QA methodologies & test strategies assume a rational tester, who takes logical calls on developing test-cases, allocating resources, reviewing & reporting issues etc. And at the end of a cycle she introspects what went right and more importantly, what went wrong and new development / test process and strategies evolve. But research shows that this rational tester is a figment of our imagination and all testers are susceptible to a gamut of behavioral/psychological factors that influence & bias their ability to take right decisions.
In general a tester develops opinions regarding how things should look, how things should behave, and the overall end user experience. These cognitive biases make up the filter between what actually exists, and what she perceives to be true. The task of testing should attempt to realize and recognize a tester’s cognitive biases, and rationalizations of decisions that made based on those biases.

This talk borrows from behavioral economic theory (presented in popular books like Sway, Predictably irrational & Blink) and examines how these factors influence a tester’s behavior in irrational (but predictable) ways. This talk explores the impact of some of these behaviors (biases) like, Loss aversion, Procrastination & self control, Effect of expectations, Price of ownership, Asymmetric dominance effect etc. on decisions that testers make. It provides examples and cases from our experience and also looks at approaches we can take to protect us from falling victim to these cognitive biases..

What are cognitive biases and how they affect rational decision making? What are biases that can affect you as a tester? How can you protect yourself from falling victim to some common cognitive bias ‘traps’ ?


I am Srikanth Krishnan from India, I work with Oracle India and I manage the EBS QA team. I would like to interest you in a talk that I think the intelligent audience of EuroSTAR will find interesting & useful.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Ogilvy supposedly said “”Half of advertising dollars go to waste. The problem is in identifying which half! “. Do you feel that the same is true for testing?

You make a totally rational pitch based on facts/data & find your customers/management take decision based on “gut-feel”?

Know of any testers who are so emotionally invested in their tests or product areas that they miss things that are blindingly obvious beyond their boundaries?

Do you feel that irrespective of the deadline most testing happen close to the cut-off?

Ever wonder how your expectation of the quality of product seems to come true so often that it seems a little too good to be true?

Do you feel having more choices (tools, test plans, environments etc.) don’t necessarily translate into better outcomes?

Do you find that your management/customer seems to remember that one bug that you missed but forget the 100’s that you caught?

If you found yourself nodding in agreement to one or more of the above then…
You need to vote for this talk

In this talk I will dive into some of the concepts from Behavioral economics & draw parallels with testing.

I will break the myth that we all consider to be true ie., we are rational human beings making data based decisions that maximize our desired outcome.
I will share how we predictably make in-correct decisions, and the patterns underlying such biases.

I will highlight some of the cognitive biases testers (or even developers for that matter) fall prey to and what it means for your project/product.

I will also show how you can leverage some of the biases to your advantage in nudging people towards outcomes that you would like.

And finally we will explore some ways in which you can sensitize yourself to such “black-holes”, mitigate them and manage the risk around such biases.

Give me your feedback

While this is the overarching story arc for my talk, I am open to suggestions & feedback. If there are specific areas that interest you, that you would like to hear more about or have any ideas suggestion on how this talk can be of more value to you, please let me know. I am happy to engage with you in the comments section and see what best I can do.

Srikranth Krishnan is the Senior Director and head of Quality Assurance organization for Ebusiness Suite of applications at Oracle Corporation. He has been with Oracle for the last 10 years. Prior to Oracle he was with ABS Dubai as a consultant and Applications Engineer at Sundaram Clayton. Sundaram Clayton
was the first winner of the Deming prize for quality in India. Srikanth is an executive committee Chairperson of STeP-IN Hyderabad. He is a lifelong learner whose diverse interests include photography, gardening, technology, management, and travel.

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