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System 1 and System 2 in testing – part 3

In the previous blog posts System 1 and System 2 were discussed.

For the fast observations System 1 is used in most cases. This way of thinking provides fast, almost effortless way to digest information. Like walking to a restaurant.

For the thoughtful observations System 2 is used. An example is choosing what to eat in a restaurant.

In this episode I will write about situations, where System 1 and System 2 are used after each other. It is like shifting gears. This can lead to new test ideas.

Switching from System 1 to System 2

Switching off the auto pilot

Just like in previous years, I filled in my tax form this spring. There is an advantage for using a computer. I could save the form and correct any errors later on.  I just had to find the numbers and type them in the right text fields.

I read a strange term. What did this mean?

The following things happened:

”Hey hey, what does it actually say?
Clicking the question mark like JARVIS calling Stark
Getting tips when the question parts the lips.
Thinking, ’A.I. is not needed all the time.
Especially for this simple rhyme.’ ”
(On the melody of “American Pie”.)

Looking back

While I was filling in my tax form, it was like filling in a standard form. I did not need to think a lot. At that moment I was using System 1. Then I hesitated, there was something new. I might continue and paying too much tax. Not a pleasant thought.

I carefully thought about the situation.
Luckily, there was a way to get more detailed information. I pressed the question mark and got the requested information. With all this thinking, I was using System 2.

A well-designed web site provides enough information in case of questions.

Switching from System 2 to System 1

Taking a decision

Because of the increasing complexity of web sites, one of my kids helped me. while I booked the tickets. Holidays are always a good reason to get help.

The first questions were simple. I selected an airport a day and a time. Then I entered all the needed information about the passengers like names and birth dates. Then I needed to fill in the number of pieces of luggage. This question was not a surprise. I had done my homework.

Then the unexpected questions came up. Would I like to reserve seats? I only wanted 2 passenger seats next to each other. The other passengers would have no problem. But the web site did not allow to book reserved seats for a part of my company. It was all or none. I made a choice,

Would I like to rent a car? I did not intend to drive a car. No thanks.

Of course, I could book a bus ticket. That was not in my homework. A price of the bus tickets was shown on my screen. My kid looked on the mobile phone to determine, whether the bus ticket was better than the public traffic. The price sounded good enough. Then I could select a destination. I looked to my kid again. Using a map app and the location of the accommodation. my kid gave me a good suggestion.

Then we looked again to all the made choices. It looked good. I wanted to pay and pressed a button. Nothing happened. I pressed again. No deal.

Then I remembered that I got 2 warnings for booking too slow. Both times I requested for more time to book the flight. But somehow, I ran out of time. So, I spent a lot of energy and time for nothing.

Now I could go to another web site or do another attempt. Then the following things happened:

“Why, why did I do an extra try?
The thinking was done, the hesitating was gone.
Making the same choices, without any noises.
Thinking, “This’ll be the day that I retry.
This’ll be the day that I buy.”
(On the melody of “American Pie”.)

Looking back

Answering unexpected questions made me think. The questions about the bus tickets took 2 persons to answer them. System 2 was in use. For the second attempt to book the flight tickets, I could rely on my memory. Remembering things costed me less than a second. System 1 was now in use.

During the whole process I switched from Systen 2 to System 1. The choices were clear. If an application or web site does not provide an easy path  to remember, then the it will not be used for a second attempt.

System 1 and System 2 in testing – part 2

In the previous blog post System 1 and System 2 were introduced.

For the fast observations System 1 is used in most cases. This way of thinking provides fast, almost effortless way to digest information. Like walking to a cinema.

For the thoughtful observations System 2 is used. An example is choosing which movie to watch in a cinema.

There was a focus on System 1 in the previous episode. In this episode I will turn your attention to System 2. And how this system might lead to other test ideas.

Supporting System 2


During my regular visit to the web site, I was welcomed with a cookie banner. My first thought was to reduce the number of cookies to an absolute minimum. Of, course I could accept all cookies. But I pressed the Options button. Three groups of cookies were presented.

Each group of cookies had an explanation and a radio box for selection. I only chose the necessary cookies. The text was shown in agreeable font size, so i did not have to pinch my eyes to read it.

Then I had to look to the buttons. The button to accept all the cookies was in the right lower corner. The Save and Exit button was left to it. I pressed the button and was ready to use the web site.

“Categorised cookies, a simple explainer,
no scrolling needed, a normal sized font size.
These are a few of my favourite things.”
(On the melody of “My favorite things”)


It was time for a new headset for my PC. I had already done my homework: I found a good headset. I only had to buy it.

After clicking on the link in my notes, the web page with the right product was shown in my browser. I added it to my shopping cart and opened the order form with the usual questions.

Yes, I would like the headset be delivered to my home address. And I was home on the first suggested date. Of course, I wanted to enter some numbers from my gift cards.

Now I only needed to pay. I chose the cheapest option. Sorry, I am Dutch.

In short, I had to answer some questions and there were some good suggestions from the web site. Thanks for the support.

Knowledge about System 2 in good hands

A well-designed program simplifies the choices of the user. It reduces the time to make an informed decision.

Abusing System 2

Micro selecting

In my never-ending quest for information, I encountered a new cookie banner. I like to minimise the number of my cookies, so I wanted to change the settings. A dialog opened for my eyes.

While l tried to get an overview, I had to scroll down. There were about 9 groups of cookies. The categories looked almost identical. The selection of the permission was represented by a circle in the left side of some ellipse. It looked nice, but we do not use these switches in the Netherlands.

Now I had a screen reader installed for accessibility testing. This program tells what is happening on screen. I pressed the switch and heard that it was switched on. I did not like it. Another press let my screen reader announce that the switch was off.

“Scrolling down, another switch,
‘Legitimate interest’,
based on some law, which I don’t know.
Keep me safe, privacy laws“
(On the melody of  the chorus of “Take Me Home, Country Roads”)

But wait, there was more. There was a link for vendor information. After a click, I saw every single vendor with 1 or 2 switches. And the font size on the cookie banner was smaller than the font size on the web page.

This was an overwhelming experience for me. And it was not clear which options led to which consequences for me.

“Individual cookies, enormous explainer,
a scrollbar required, a small sized font size
These are a few of my dislikeable things.”
(On the melody of “My favorite things”)

Knowledge about System 2 in bad hands

Nowadays it is impossible to use programs or web sites without making choices. An abundant number of options may strike fear.

“When System 2 rules, when the user thinks,
when anxiety grows,
there were too many choices to be made
and an increasing fear.”
(On the melody of “My favorite things”)

To be continued

System 1 and System 2 in testing – part 1

In March 2024 Daniel Kahneman died. He wrote ”Thinking fast and slow”. This book is about how people handle certain situations. He introduced System 1 and System 2.

For the fast observations System 1 is used in most cases. This way of thinking provides fast, almost effortless way to digest information. Like walking to a shop.

For the thoughtful observations System 2 is used. An example is choosing which things to buy in a shop based on a shopping list or availability.

The way users behave, can lead to good test

Supporting System 1


For a test I needed a program. As usually, I went to the system administrator. He gave me some instructions to install the program on my own. I had to change one setting and only needed to press the Next button.

My thought process was like: is this the option? Yes, change it and press the Next button. Otherwise press the Next button. I had the program installed within minutes.

It went so smoothly, because the Next button was on the same place every time.

“The right lower corner of a well designed
the group of a similar looking buttons.
These are a few of my favourite things.”
(On the melody of “My favorite things”)


One of the consequences of the privacy laws is the cookie banner. On one of my favourite web site there are only two buttons: ”Yes, I agree” and “No, thanks” buttons, This is clear and concise.

Knowledge about System 1 in good hands

A good design of the program stimulates the user to use System 1. The program is easy to use.

Abusing System 1


In the past I stumbled on a cookie banner. It had the Accept All button and a More Info button. If I really wanted to visit this web site, then I needed to accept all the cookies. Something I was not looking forward to. It was also not compliant with the privacy laws. There was no way to reject the cookies.

But I was curious, I pressed on the More Info button, A dialog popped up with options to reject cookies. If I only used System 1, then I got unwanted cookies on my PC.


On a cookie banner from another web site, I was looking for a way to avoid unnecessary cookies. In the right lower corner of the dialog there were no buttons. This is my favourite place to look for buttons.

My view went up and I noticed the Accept All button. It had a different background colour than the body of the dialog. I was about to press this button, when I noticed another button to the left.

The Reject all button had the same background as the body of the dialog. It did not get my attention because of the colours of the Accept All button.

This particular button had also a bigger impact on people, who have problems with reading. They might prefer the emphasised Accept All button over the normal Reject All button. Also. people with visual impairment would make the same choice because of the bad contrast.

“The right upper corner of a bad designed
the group of different looking buttons.
These are a few of my dislikeable things.”
(On the melody of “My favorite things”)

Knowledge about System 1 in bad hands

It is possible to make programs in such way that people make bad choices. These situations are called dark patterns. Especially disabled people are easy victims.

“When System 1 rules, when the user clicks,
when the cookies come,
there was nor second thought, nor hesitation,
just a silent urge.”
(On the melody of “My favorite things”)

To be continued.