Psychology of Asking Questions – Iain Bright

Psychology of Asking Questions – Iain Bright


Psychology - the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behaviour in a given context.

Question - a sentence worded or expressed so as to elicit information.

For me, a key skill in testing is asking questions. As testers, we should be asking questions about the requirements/design/system at every opportunity we can: Who will be using it? Where? What happens if...? How does it work? How should it work? Why…?

These are all good questions, but the focus of them is to get information about the product being tested. Maybe we should be asking other questions? Not about the product, but about ourselves and of our peers and colleagues. And not to just elicit information either, but also elicit a desired response or behavioural change.

As testers, we sometimes find ourselves trying to deal with difficult situations and/or people. The natural response is try and find a solution to the problem or overcome the objections. Instead, maybe we should be asking more questions to challenge the problem faced until an agreement is reached?

What questions should we be asking of ourselves, peers and colleagues, and how?

That’s the aim of the presentation by guiding the audience through the following:

  • To ask yourself what you are trying to achieve and why it’s important.
  • To consider the working environment and the people in it and how you may need to re-phrase the same question to suit.
  • To learn about different psychological techniques (e.g. ‘Why Not’, ‘Door in the Face’, ‘Foot in the Door’, ‘Placebo information’) and how they can be used to overcome objections.

During the presentation I will include some examples from my own experience as case studies and use time at the end to encourage the audience to share their experiences.