How do you examine your own biases within testing?

Thought this is a brilliant question asked the other day on Twitter:

Some replies:

Learn the difference between an assumption and a bias. Look for biases in others, and compare yourself to those. Use biases to generate test ideas.

So as part of our job application process, we have anyone who wants to do test automation do a take home test. I end up reviewing quite a lot of those, and have to consciously think “this isn’t the way I would do it, but are they following strong principles?”

How about you, how do you examine your own biases within testing?


Tough one.

In another life, I spent twenty years working on overcoming a whole pile of societal biases in trying to champion diversity of all kinds in the workplace, from the actual office floor up to negotiations with management. Sometimes, I found myself going outside the box on this, such as when we advertised for a receptionist in our London office in a magazine called “City Girl”, or when we found evidence of gender pay gaps amongst males aged 25-35 and all staff over 40 (a wholly performance-based pay system was rewarding Bright Young Things who were at the cutting edge of making policy, whilst no-one over 40 was getting performance assessments that would give rise to any sort of pay increase greater than the Treasury average limit for the year - usually 1% or less). Saying no to the obvious biases - race, gender and sexuality - were taken as a given in that environment.

So I’d like to think that I’ve got good awareness of my own biases. But it takes eternal vigilance to make sure that some unconscious bias, often acquired from external sources such as (in particular) social media, doesn’t creep in. And to some extent, as a tester who works in an exploratory testing mode most of the time, I rely on a bias against the ability of users to do what is expected of them by the kinder, gentler souls who designed the software I’m testing!

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