No. #79

Illusion of External Agency
- Attributing Success to External Forces

The illusion of external agency is the tendency to attribute events or outcomes to external forces rather than one’s own actions. In product use, this can lead to users attributing their successes or failures with the product to the product itself rather than their use of it.

Read more on Wikipedia

Product example

Users of a language learning app might attribute their progress to the app’s methodology exclusively, overlooking their own study habits.

Empathy tips


Highlight User Agency

Emphasize the user's role and agency in achieving outcomes with the product.


User Success Stories

Share user success stories that highlight personal effort and strategies.


Guide on Effective Use

Provide guidance on how to effectively use the product to achieve desired outcomes.


Reinforce Personal Effort

Reinforce the importance of personal effort in communications and within the app experience.

Need an empathic partner?

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Anna Lundqvist
UX Designer and AI Ethics Strategist guiding innovative product development and educational workshops
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Eddy Salzmann
Design lead and team culture enthusiast driving products and design processes
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Ola Möller
Founder of MethodKit who has a passion for organisations and seeing the big picture
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