Power Dynamics and Affirmation in UX Research

February 20, 2023 | Read Time : 3 mins

When we explore evidence-based strategies from other disciplines that can help us elicit open and honest criticism, we stand to become better researchers. In this article, we want to look at affirmations and how they’ve helped me rebalance the power dynamic during qualitative sessions. Affirmations encourage people to display genuine behaviour in User Experience (UX).

What is Affirmation?

Affirmations are positive remarks that can help a person challenge and overcome negative and self-sabotaging thoughts. When you repeat them often and believe in them, you can start to see positive changes.

Affirmations are remarks and gestures that highlight user qualities and actions that contribute to good transformation, no matter how big or small. Affirmations boost one’s belief in one’s potential to change. Affirmations must be sincere and consistent with being successful.

Why affirmations are important?

Affirming a participant means recognizing and encouraging them when taking action-oriented steps toward engaging in constructive, self-serving behavior. Establishing trust and creating an open environment in which participants feel comfortable disclosing information to you is important.

UX Interview and Power Dynamics

It is critical to realize the power dynamic between the UX researcher and the participant. Participants come to our meetings with the idea that we are in charge. Furthermore, we are the ones who retell the tale; through this retelling, we build a reputation for ourselves in the profession. Although we compensate participants for their time, we are not UX Researchers until we have users.

Our role is to figure out how to advocate for users’ best interests while keeping business goals in mind.

The power dynamic will always exist to some extent. But it doesn’t imply we can’t narrow the gap. Perfecting the art of affirmation is one of the finest methods to break down that power dynamic and build a safe workplace over the years.

How to use Affirmations in your UX research practice

  • Affirmations in a UX practice start with this type of awareness, in which we accept that we can know things without experiencing them.
  • The purpose of affirmations is not to stroke one’s ego or appear flattering. They are extremely focused on providing a secure environment where people can recognize their accomplishments and feel at ease speaking from a
    place of confidence.
  • The goal should be to increase participants’ confidence in their sharing ability.

Here are some things to consider when conducting user interviews:

  • When do they talk about behaviour that helps them?
  • What point of view do they take when describing your product?
  • What are some of the insights they’ve provided that can assist you explain usability issues to your stakeholders?

When you hear your participants discussing any of these topics, utilize any of the affirmation words listed below:

  • “Wow, that’s an incredible achievement!”
  • “You have a lot of information in this field.” “Thank you for sharing it with us.”
  • “You stated that you were terrified to speak with your doctor, yet you did it nonetheless.”

Remember that affirmations work best with other tactics like visualization and goal planning.


OriginUX Studio


Team OriginUX

OriginUX Studio is a CoE for User Experience providing UI & UX across Product, Service and Customer Experience Design. We are a cross-disciplinary design team that loves to create great experiences and make meaningful connections for businesses and their users through UI & UX.

Founded in 2016, our larger purpose is to help brands understand what they want to do and where they want to go. To do that we have to make understanding customer experience simple, effortless, and affordable for everyone.

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