What is the Observe/Infer card?
Engage more deeply with research by separating observation and interpretation.
Help teams recognise their own biases and premature conclusions, whilst also helping you reflect on what’s going on beneath the surface of your research.
How to use the Observe/Infer card
Start here if your team hasn’t done this before:
1. Have participants take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left hand side of the line, ask participants to title it “what I see” then on the right hand side, “what I think this means”.
2. Pick someone from the group to be your performer. Give them these instructions, either via DM or whispered if you’re doing this in person:
“Go back to the group, sit in a chair, place your arms at 90 degrees, and round the hands slightly and move your fingers up and down irregularly.”
3. Have your volunteer perform as instructed for 10 seconds or so, either on-camera or at the front of the room. Ask everyone else to write what they see on the left of their paper, and what they think it means on the right.
4. Applaud your volunteer, then ask participants to first share only what they saw.
If people say things like “piano playing” or “typing”, ask if that’s actually what they saw. If these answers haven’t come up, you can then ask “what did you think it meant?” Everyone should now be clear on the difference between observation and inference.
Start here if your team’s familiar with this tactic:
5. Ask everyone to react to an existing piece of research using the same headings as above. Encourage weird explanations under the second heading.