Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Selective Retention while Testing

We have so many organs in our body and if we are lucky enough then we have these receptive organs with full of functionality. So, in every moment we are having lots of inputs through these. But, as we have the most obscure yet most creative thing in out head that is 'Brain', we do always try to conserve those inputs which seem important to us and leave the others. Trust me, we are continuously doing it in every moment either consciously or unconsciously. So, this is what the topic is all about. This is called Selective Retention.

Formal definition of Selective Retention from Wikipedia:

"Selective retention, in relating to the mind, is the process when people more accurately remember messages that are closer to their interests, values and beliefs, than those that are in contrast with their values and beliefs, selecting what to keep in the memory, narrowing the informational flow."

According to an article from Illinois State University, Selective Retention is the personal filtering of what we see and hear so as to suit our own needs. ISU also says, Much of this process is psychological and often unconscious.

Well, now some questions may come to your mind like "What is the uses of it while testing?",  "Testing should cover every inputs in all dimensions, so are you kidding about testing?". For those who do not agree with me, please be with me for the rest of the post. I will try to explain my thoughts regarding this. If you will not agree after completing the post, then i will definitely say that i am a failure to justify my reasoning. But, i wont say that 'Selective Retention is not important'.

Now, come to the core area of our expertise that is testing. While testing, actually the term should be 'Exploratory Testing', you are the king of the domain. You can traverse anywhere you want and you can do and see anything you want to. So, one thing about Exploratory Testing is that you have no boundary condition. So, should we explore all the things? 
Theoretically, we should. But, we are not living in the world without limitations. Time and cost are the main limitations we are living with. So, we need to traverse and explore the domain with  a mindset that the important things should be completed effectively. Those who believe in Exploratory Testing will definitely agree with me in this point. So, here while testing we do always accept the information what is needed and try to retain them in our mindset. These practices become a habit while you are growing up as a tester. So, when you have grown up enough, there are always some selective retention in your way of testing unconsciously. It is not bad and it should happen because you are the king of your product and you need to act fast and spontaneously. So, if this is not unconscious, it can never be such fast as it should be.

This is all about the Selective Retention while Testing. So, are you guys are with me? I will appreciate your opinions, thoughts and whatever you want to say about it. 

Thank You !!!

Acknowledgement: 1.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selective_retention
                              2.  http://www.citeman.com/696-selective-attention-distortion-and-retention.html


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  2. So what should be the order? Selective retention first, or entire domain exploration.

    1. There should be no doubt which will come first. Because both things complement each other. While doing the entire domain exploration you need to retain what you might think useful for your exploration to be continued. So, you have to use the Selective Retention wisely while doing the domain exploration considering the context of your testing objective.