Monday, May 06, 2013

Cognitive Bias in NoSQL System Selection

After attending the Saturn 2013 Conference I was exposed to the use of "Cognitive Bias" in software architecture.

Here are some examples of cognitive bias I have seen as applied to the world of NoSQL database selection.

Anchoring bias - the tendency to produce an estimate near a cue amount - "Our managers were expecting an RDBMS solution so that’s what we gave them."

Availability heuristic - the tendency to estimate that what is easily remembered is more likely than that which is not. - "I hear that NoSQL does not support ACID." or "I hear that XML is verbose?"

Bandwagon effect - the tendency to do or believe what others do or believe - "Everyone else at this company and in our local area uses RDBMSs."

Confirmation bias - the tendency to seek out only that information that supports one's preconceptions – "We only read posts from the Oracle|Microsoft|IBM groups."

Framing effect - the tendency to react to how information is framed, beyond its factual content "We know of some NoSQL projects that failed."

Gambler's fallacy (aka sunk cost bias) the failure to reset one's expectations based on one's current situation – "We already paid for our Oracle|Microsoft|IBM license so why spend more money?"

Hindsight bias - the tendency to assess one's previous decisions as more efficacious than they were – "Our last five systems worked on RDBMS solutions".

Halo effect - the tendency to attribute unverified capabilities in a person based on an observed capability. – "Oracle|Microsoft|IBM sells billions of dollars of licenses each year, how could so many people be wrong". 

Representativeness heuristic - the tendency to judge something as belonging to a class based on a few salient characteristics  - "Our accounting systems work on RDBMS so why not our product search?"

Thanks to everyone at CMU/SEI and the SATURN Conference for the exposure to these ideas.

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