Day#284: Illusory truth effect in UX

Day#284: Illusory truth effect in UX

Hey Uxers today we will be chatting about the Illusory Truth Effect, I found this one particularly interesting because growing up I noticed many instances where it seemed people believed statements without having any real facts behind them. I was that kid that would “Why” the crap out of something in class, and I never felt satisfied when adults in general didn’t give me sound feedback. Lol sounds like younger me was a judgy little know it all right? Yeah probably why teachers didn’t like me much..

Anyway the Illusory Truth Effect basically refers to when people hear something enough times it becomes more believable to them. For me this would be the reason behind most marketing and advertising in general, from the industrialization where advertising became a norm to compel people to buy products made in quantity, to the digital age where we track user behavior on sites, collect cookies and then re advertise to those same people on different channels. The Illusory Truth Effect can refer to people and decisions they make in their personal lives on beliefs and goals etc, for the purpose of not seeming too controversial on this blog that is suppose to be UX focused I won’t go into some of the common examples that come to mind for me. Rather I will use superstitions as an example, if you grew up in a conservative household of any kind chances are you had at least one superstition. These are not born from facts and rather simply told over and over from adult to child, people become used to the idea of the action resulting in a positive or negative outcome and there you go it becomes a belief.

In relation to UX?

Well there are lots of ways this can be elicited in people, imagine a new product unlike any other. How do you price it? Here the company can price it the way they want and if the price is that way for long enough, users will start becoming accustomed to it, people will even start to convince themselves of the reasons for the price, which may in fact be related to the actual price. However in some cases it is not, for example I like skin care, I like trying new products and looking at ingredient compositions etc, a new range has the ability to price their product the way they want. Even though it is not the first skin care brand, they do however have to look the part if they want to price their products as high end skin care, and be able to compete with other products on the market in terms of quality and efficiency.

Another issue that may occur is more of an internal one, ever entered a project either from newly joining the company or moving departments and joining a team. Then you find people are moving forward on a feature or the entire product which seems “all wrong”. From a UX perspective this would mean moving forward with product changes without consulting with current or potential users, and designing without a user centered design process. The other members on the team seem so convinced, it may be that they don’t trust you yet to actually be honest about their thoughts on the way forward, OR it could be that over time they themselves have also been convinced because they have been presented on the concept so many times, that they now also think it is a great idea. This does tie into a few other group mentalities like Group think etc, you can check out my post on Group Think here and my post on The Abilene Paradox here.

In conclusion though The Illusory Truth Effect has some interesting studies conducted on its accuracy and I would advise you to check out the video below for some more interesting examples of how it works and how to avoid it. Basically question everything, our job as UX practitioners is to make sure we create the best product for users, this entails questioning decisions and looking at products with an unbiased approach, happy researching until next time Uxers.

Bye for now!

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