This is the final week in our series on cognitive biases and, for this last edition, we will be looking at the Bandwagon Effect and how it can stunt the growth of evaluators who are unaware of its effects.
To put it simply, the Bandwagon Effect is the human instinct to do what others are doing; to adopt the same attitude, behavior, perspective or style as others merely because ‘everyone else is doing it’. It is human nature to socialize our behaviors, but it is important to be cognizant of which behaviors become socialized or risk unintentional side-effects down the line, such as shallow data analysis and the dulling of our inquisitiveness.
This series on cognitive biases has aimed to improve our evaluations and analysis of data, showing where a sub-conscious bias may affect how an evaluator interprets their data. If an evaluator hears a preliminary conclusion to their data from someone else they trust, this may cause them to “jump on the Bandwagon” and try confirm this theory (remember Confirmation Bias?) rather than doing their own analysis of the data. It is imperative that as evaluators, we allow the data to speak for itself. Triangulate findings from the data rather than jumping on the Bandwagon!
“All wins are perishable. Continuously update your knowledge on optimization, analytics and growth. Realize it’s an ongoing process.”Alex Birkett
Another area that the Bandwagon Effect effects evaluators is in emerging methods for conducting evaluations. Methods of evaluation are constantly evolving and new perspectives on evaluation are ever emerging. Recently, Khulisa had the privilege of having Donna Podems give a master class on Feminist Evaluation (keep an eye out for future tips on this!). When new perspectives on evaluation emerge, the Bandwagon Effect can lead evaluators to adopt or reject these new perspectives without first studying them fully. If the new method is created by someone that we know and/or like, we are even more likely to adopt it without questioning, or even properly learning about, its methodology.
Evaluators should be continuous learners – ever inquisitive about how to measure progress in different settings. Evaluation can create new environments, which means that evaluators need to think of themselves as creators, too. “There is growing recognition that, as a profession, evaluators have an influence in making sure voices are equitably heard. Professional judgment is both about disciplining our own role in the evaluation practice, as well as becoming more self-aware (and ethical) as practitioners” (James McDavid, Irene Huse & Laura Hawthorn in Program Evaluation and Performance Measurement).
Continue to seek out new perspectives and methods of evaluation that challenge your thinking. Never allow the Bandwagon Effect to stunt your growth as an evaluator!
5 Easy Tips for Growing as an Evaluator, Sage Publishing. Accessed from https://us.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/5-easy-tips-for-growing-as-an-evaluator.pdf on 03/12/2021
Birkett, A. (2016), 5 Cognitive Biases Ruining Your Growth. Accessed from https://blog.amplitude.com/cognitive-biases-ruining-growth on 03/12/2021.
Podems, D. (2018), Making Feminist Evaluation Practical, eVALUation Matters, Fourth Quarter. Accessed from https://idev.afdb.org/sites/default/files/Evaluations/2020-03/Making%20Feminist%20Evaluation%20practical.pdf on 15/03/2021