Remember puberty? Suddenly everybody was looking at you and you were certain that no matter what you did, you always looked stupid. Puberty came and went but that naked feeling stayed. You still dress to impress and check in every mirror if your hair looks fine.
Sounds familiar? Then the spotlight bias is just the bias for you. It means that “people tend to believe they are being noticed more than they really are”
Once you know about the spotlight bias, life can be a lot easier. Relax… nobody is really paying attention to you! Of course we all learn this the hard way when we get older. Once you’re old enough, people will stop paying attention at all.
I‘ve done quite a lot of usability tests and I’m always a bit surprised when people say ‘sorry’ when something goes wrong. Somehow, they always blame themselves for not knowing what to do, not the design they’re using. Is this typical for software? I can’t imagine people saying sorry when their architect has made a mistake and put the toilet in the basement of their new house.
The spotlight bias could be the explanation why people act a bit shy. It’s creepy to feel that somebody’s watching you and in this particular situation, it’s not just a feeling; they’re damn right that they’re being observed!
So as a UX designer, remember that no matter how friendly and calm you are, you wíll have an impact on the user’s behaviour, just by being there as a professional.