Dissonant information avoidance bias in the information requirements determination process



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Information requirements determination (IRD) is a critical task in systems development, as all subsequent stages of the development process depend on its results. Because the goal of analysts is to collect a set of requirements that is as accurate and complete as possible, biases in judgment or reasoning that impede this goal are a serious threat to the systems development process. One such bias is dissonant information avoidance. Dissonant information avoidance is the tendency to avoid information that is contrary to one’s predisposition.
Analysts usually have prior opinions about future systems that are derived from their past experiences, project documents, and meetings. The assumption is that systems analysts consider and process all potentially relevant and useful information in developing a system. Due to the abundant amount of information available in the IRD process, however, analysts have no choice other than to avoid some information regardless of whether it is consonant or dissonant to their prior opinions. However, the results of the present study show that analysts use their predispositions to avoid a higher amount of dissonant information than consonant information in the IRD process. The results also reveal that analysts adopt a balanced approach in the requirements elicitation step of the IRD process, whereas they adopt a biased approach in avoiding dissonant information compared to consonant information in the requirements representation step. Therefore, despite the common belief (or hope) that analysts will gather and represent all the information requirements to which they are exposed, information provided to them as important requirements may not be utilized in the future models and design of the system.



Cognitive dissonance theory, Dissonant information, Dissonance avoidance, Dissonance avoidance bias, Requirements determination, Systems development, Software development