Behaviorism + UX research!


Really interesting connection made in this article

In this article we compare current research methods with those facilitated by behaviourist, almost a 100 years ago. The similarities are fascinating, but so are the drawbacks that come along with a superficial stimulus-response approach to human behavioural studies. But first, let’s look at the theories behind one of the most influential movements in American psychology.


This article argues:

“I think we can now comfortably dump Nielsen’s suggestion to just test with 5 participants, unless you want to call yourself a behaviourist.”

I was wondering if anyone had any follow up thoughts to this - articles as current as 2016 still cite that 4-5 users are the optimal number to test with.

Additionally, I found this article: that also discusses issue with using only 5 participants. It states:

“When quoting statistics, we must be careful to consider the margin of error for any findings. For example, there is more to Jakob Nielsen’s oft-quoted statement, “Five participants will discover over 80% of the problems” than study teams often present. This particular statistic has a 95% confidence level and margin of error of ±18.5%, which means there is a 95% chance that a group of five participants will find between 66.5% and 100% of the problems. While some groups of five in Nielsen’s study did find nearly all of the problems, one group found only 55% of the problems. Therefore, we cannot assume that five participants are sufficient for every usability-testing situation. If there are just five participants, the results may not tell the whole story.”

And summarizes that for problem discovery, 5-10 is a good baseline and 10-12 is a good baseline for comparative.