Cognitive Biases and Their Impact on User Experience

Humans are biased beings. Even the most logical ones are not as rational as they think they are. This is because the human mind is designed in such a way that it prefers acting fast to rational. That is to say that our brain likes to make active and quick decisions rather than analyzing the facts in most situations. 


In this article, we will shed light on what these behaviors are and their impact on user experience. But first, let’s try to know in detail what cognitive bias is in reality?


What is Cognitive Bias?


The term was first coined in the 1970s by two widely acclaimed scientists namely Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. In their research, they found out that most of their subjects made non-rational decisions especially when large numbers were in question.


So it is believed that most people tend to use mental shortcuts to find out the result instead of sticking to facts. These shortcuts are called heuristics. Although these shortcuts help us solve problems quicker, they may also lead to errors in thinking known as cognitive biases.


Cognitive Biases in UX


As we know both designers and users go through cognitive biases, there can be errors at times. This is exactly why we need to be aware of it. The same rules that impact how the users make decisions apply to the designers. Many times we are so involved and affected by the context, as well as our previous experiences that it affects design decisions. These factors make us focus on specific aspects of the issue while ignoring the other ones. 


4 Common Cognitive Biases in UX Designing


Biases in UX is a common phenomenon. Here are 4 common cognitive biases that can take place in UX designing.


Anchoring Bias


It is when people tend to focus on a single, initial piece of information, which influences their decision making. So in this case, the first piece of information we receive acts as an anchor. Although it’s good to keep that in mind for user testing.  As the users may prefer the first version they were shown, not because it was better but because it was the first one. 


This can be avoided through A/B testing where the designers show users different versions in a different order.


Social Desirability Bias


This is about our tendency to answer in a way we think is expected by the researcher. Human beings are social and love the idea to be liked and accepted by everyone. So if you will ask a user any question regarding your business or design, they will answer keeping in mind what you are expecting. Hence the feedback received may not be always honest.


This can be avoided by indirect questioning. Instead of asking about a specific feature to a particular user, designers can put up generic questions so the users don’t feel the need to appear good and likable.


Wording/Response Bias


This bias is caused when the wording in the question is as such that it affects the answer. Like when a user is asked, “Do you prefer the previous or the improved version of the app?” Here the word “improved” is suggesting the new version is better than the previous one. As a result, users are most likely to go with the improved version. Although this will help any product receive good reviews, it impacts the survey validation of UX designers. 


This can be avoided by making the surveys as detailed as possible. For example, for the questions which require a Yes/No type response about a certain feature, you can add a space where they can write comments.


Framing Bias


It is one of the most used biases to boost sales. It works on the basis of showing users what profit they are going to get in a deal. You must have seen the products with a cut in prices and new prices. This gives the user a sense of happiness about the deal. It’s all about how the information is framed. So even if the same information is framed differently, there are different results.




There are biases in our everyday lives. And because it is a cognitive behavior, we really cannot do much about it. All we can do is to stay aware of the situation. It is important for UX designers to have knowledge of user psychology. It will not only let them understand user behavior better but also improve the quality of their work.


If you are looking to hire a team of UX designers and developers for your business, get in touch with Applify. We have a stellar team of skillful UX designers and developers who are experienced professionals in creating the best user experience for your digital presence.

Vaishali Uniyal is a content writer. She is also an avid reader and a mental health advocate with a dream to travel every nook and corner of the world.

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