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“Others” might not understand

Posted by Meg Bear on April 14, 2009

stupid Lately I’ve become aware of an interesting phenomenon.  Turns out we all seem to think that we are smarter than the other guy.    Seriously.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  Lord knows anyone who has had the opportunity to work in retail, will confirm that there are a lot of stupid people in the world.  That said, the process of hiring, does a pretty good job of weeding most of them out.

What I have noticed lately, is that when people are presented with a new concept a frequent reaction is something along the lines of

I understand what you are saying, but I’m pretty sure other people would not.


What is so interesting about this, is that it often comes up in usability tests when something is working.  Something that everyone is getting right will produce a response in people, that they are concerned that others wont get it.

Why would that be?

I guess there is one thought that people are trying to avoid the curse of knowledge and consider how others would react.  Or another thought might be that we all just think we are a lot smarter than the average Bear (so to speak). 

A possible third option might be, that when presented with something new, that you do understand, you are not really sure if you like it

One way to express this discomfort, without being offensive,  is to blame it on the other guy


4 Responses to ““Others” might not understand”

  1. Amy Wilson said

    Meg – I really *liked* this post, but I don’t think anyone else will.

  2. Louise Barnfield said

    Love this post, Meg. On a slightly different tack, I recently had a lengthy ‘discussion’ with a colleague about some text that could (IMHO) benefit from some rework. In summary, my main beef was: “I’m confused, so I’m sure others will be too!” Was I just trying to fool myself that I’m not more stupid than the rest? 😉

  3. Vivian Wong said

    Good observation Meg! I confess – occasionally when I say “This is confusing to me, and I don’t think I’m the only one who can’t make sense of it”, I am actually being considerate and give a voice to Joe the plumber 😉

  4. Meg Bear said

    @Louise and @Vivian — interesting — both you gals seem to go the other direction “I” don’t understand (and maybe I’m not the only one). I think that is the opposite case actually and probably worth a blog itself (image: “I” am stupid? – grin).

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