Continuous Improvement

Impact of Cognitive Bias on Software Testing

Software tests have changed over time from just identifying and reporting bugs to preventing them. Software testing consists primarily of choices, assessments, evaluations, and conclusions about software features. The testing is also subjected to cognitive bias throughout the phases of test creation, execution, and consumption of results. So, what is cognitive bias? Why do testers miss the bug? In this article at Software Testing Help, Geethanjali S. explains different types of cognitive biases that can affect your software testing.

What is Cognitive Bias?

“When the testers approach any testing, they are already influenced by their own biases — framing thoughts and judgments based on what to look for, where there would be potential defects coming up, who is developing it, the entire history of the program, etc.,” says Geethanjali. Being aware of different types of biases will help you manage them effectively.

Types of Cognitive Bias

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias promotes the software testers to search for and interpret information in a way that confirms the initial perception. Testers’ initial perception of the quality of code, the quality of the requirements, and the capabilities of the developers can impact how they test the software. This bias is difficult to mitigate because of the tendency towards confirmation, affirmation, and success.

Congruence Bias

This is very similar to confirmation bias. Here, the testers plan and execute tests according to their own readily apparent hypotheses and avoid considering the alternatives. Minimizing the impact of both confirmation and congruence bias on software testing means testers must attempt to break the application or system in such a way that anticipates how various types of users might break it.

Survivorship Bias

Under survivorship bias, testers distort data set evaluation by focusing only on the successful cases while ignoring the failures. One way to mitigate survivorship bias is to convert all of the archived evidence into well-documented evidence and transparently publish a record of all bugs that testers find in every release cycle.

Negativity Bias

Here, testers pay more attention to what is conceptually negative, rather than maintaining balance with the positive information. Negativity bias is common in QA Teams. It isn’t easy to convince the testers to provide sign off for a build to production since their focus would be only on the defects they have uncovered.

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