I write software, and I find that sometimes a user assumes that the system knows what they already know about a specific scenario. Here's a specific example:

A bank account that was used in an ACH transfer bounces back from the bank because it is no longer an active account. The user gets emailed from the bank that the particular account is inactive. They must then go into the system and mark the account as bad. {Don't worry about improving my process :)} They then continue to use the system as if it knows this piece of information, and get upset when the outcome of the scenario is different because it did not know this piece of information.

This is where my question lies:
When they forget/do not mark the account as bad because they assume the system already knows that it is bad because they know it.

My made up guesses:
pre-knowledge bias
foreknowledge assumption

But not:
foregone conclusion

  • I don't understand the question. You say your user "goes into the system and marks the account as bad", then continues to use the system as if it now knows this piece of information. That looks to me like normal behaviour - if you enter information into a computer-based system, surely you'd expect the system to record and act on that information. – FumbleFingers Oct 6 '16 at 16:14
  • Maybe something like omniscience fallacy – GoldenGremlin Oct 6 '16 at 16:14
  • Good point, @FumbleFingers. I've hopefully clarified – Nick DeVore Oct 6 '16 at 16:21

The user makes presuppositions.

A "presupposition" is a background belief (something that sits, unsaid, and helps provide meaning about what a person says).

Definition of "Presuppose": suppose or assume beforehand; take for granted in advance.

Definition of "Presuppose a thing, condition, or state of affairs" : require or imply as an antecedent condition.


Naive end user or a Non-intuitive system

Intuition is specific to the individual user. So, this particular user's intuition was that the system should have known the account was bad. In user experience research a focus group of "real" users would be gathered and if the majority of users had the same problem, then the system is non-intuitive. If the majority of users assumed they needed to mark the account as bad, then the particular user you described is a "naive end user". As a software engineer myself, "end user" is a pejorative term that cause us to write extra code to keep them from shooting themselves in the foot. A "naive end user" is a term I use that describes someone even further down the spectrum of people who shouldn't use technology


It is also a case of prejudice.


prejudice NOUN

1 Preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

‘We all bring to a film our own storehouse of experiences, impressions, prejudices.’

‘Each of us observes the world and the people with whom we come in contact through a lens refracted by our own upbringing, experiences and prejudices.’

  • True enough. I hadn't considered it mainly because it has such negative connotations in today's society, but it truly is a prejudice. – Nick DeVore Oct 6 '16 at 17:07

You can say that the system doesn't match the user's preconceptions:

an opinion about something that you form before you have a lot of information about it or experience of it

Or, you could say that the user is operating on the mistaken assumption that the system automatically knows what the user knows.

  • Definitely a solid answer. I wonder if there's a word that describes the idea of knowledge transference though? Perhaps, if you asked the user if the system "knew" it was bad, they would even answer "No", but they behave as if it does know the account is bad? Is there a word with a little more nuance? – Nick DeVore Oct 6 '16 at 16:24

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