The missing Ps – People

LMS adoption decisions are made by people. LMSes are used by people. The nature of those people who they are, how they think and what they believe, amongst other characteristics, have a significant impact.

They myth that people are rational

Extensive research shows that our brains have certain hardwired propensities that might be exploited. For example, our brains tend to register frequently heard facts as true, even if they are patently false. As a result, our memories and beliefs are highly malleable and unreliable. We also tend, if unchecked by the conscious reasoning mind, to focus overly on risk, inconvenience, hassles—anything negative. And researchers have found that we all carry around an innate hostility toward “otherness,” which means anyone not like us. (Herbert, 2006)

An alternative is bounded rationality which suggests that people employ heuristics in decision making rather than strict optimization. This is in response to the complexity of the situation is to great and the individual is unable to process and understand all of the alternatives.

Various fields including cognitive science and social psychology have identified a range of cognitive biases that distort how people perceive reality. Wikipedia provides a list of cognitive biases. The following list includes some related to the LMS adoption decision – they are from the decision-making and behavioural biases section of the list

  • Bandwagon effect – tendency to do things because many others are doing it.
  • Bias blind spot – tendnecy not to compensate for one’s own cognitive biases
  • Choice-supportive bias – the tendency to remember one’s choices as better than they actually were
  • Confirmation bias – the tendency to search/interpret information to confirm your pre-conceptions
  • Congruence testing – the tendency to use tests that only confirm your hypotheses rather than disprove it, or prove another
  • Deformation professionnelle – the tendency to look at things through the conventions of your own profession with no thought to the broader view
  • Disconfirmation bias – tendency to critically examine information that contradicts your prior beliefs but accept uncritically information congruent with your beliefs
  • Endowment effect – the tendency for people to value something more as soon as they own it
  • Focusing effect – prediction bias when you place too much importance on one aspect
  • Hyperbolic discounting – tendency to have a stronger preference for immediate payoffs relative to later payoffs
  • Illusion of control – tendency to believe you can influence outcomes over which you have no control
  • Impact bias – tendency to overestimate the intensity of impact on future states
  • Information bias – tendency to seek information even when it cannot affect attention
  • Loss aversion – tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains
  • Outcome bias – tendency to judge a decision but its eventual outcome instead of on the quality of the decision at the time it was made
  • Planning fallacy – tendency to under estimate task completion times
  • Post-purchase rationalisation – tendency to persuade oneself through rational argument that a purchase was a good one.
  • Pseudocertainty effect – tendency to make risk averse choices if the expected outcome is positive, but make risk-seeking choices to avoid negative outcomes
  • Status quo bias – the tendency for people to like things to stay relatively the same
  • Zero-risk bias – preference for reducing a small risk to zero over a greater reduction in a larger risk

But let’s not leave out the social biases

  • False consensus effect – tendency to overestimate the degree to which others agree with you
  • Fundamental attribution error – tendency to over-emphasize personality-based explanations for the behaviour of others while under-emphasizing the role of power and situation influences
  • Halo effect – the tendency for a person’s positive or negative traits in one area to influence your perception of them in other areas
  • Illusion of asymmetric insight – the perception that your knowledge of your peers is greater than their knowledge of you
  • Illusion of transparency – you overestimate your ability to know others, and they overestimate their ability to know you
  • Ingroup bias – preferential treatement to people who you percieve to be part of your group
  • Project bias – tendency to unconsciously assume that others share your thoughts, beliefs, values or propositions
  • Self-server bias – tendency to claim more responsibility for successes than failures.

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