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Informed Consent and "Nachvollziehbar"

I'm working on my online portfolio, so all kinds of thoughts around usability are coming up. One of them is tied to the German word nachvollziehbar. It's usually used about a chain of reasoning and means that the reader can follow the thought process that lead to a given decision. Leo gives the translations "comprehensible" and "traceable".

A simplistic example would be, saying "It looks like it might rain." makes the decision to bring an umbrella nachvollziehbar.

When a chain of reasoning is nachvollziehbar, the reader gets a warm, fuzzy feeling. It's akin to closure that way. They may disagree with the decision but at least they understand the basis for it. It also makes the reader feel more in control, because it allows her to mount counter arguments or point out opportunities for improvement. "Why don't you take this little, collapsible umbrella instead of the golf umbrella? You'll be less likely to forget it, if you can put it in your bag once you're on the train."

When a decision is not nachvollziehbar, those affected by it will usually resent it. There's an English expression for this; an "arbitrary decision" is not one that is likely to be followed. The decision makers may have very good intentions but unless they communicate them, they will not get buy-in from those affected.

It is only when a person can understand the reasoning behind a decision that they can give their informed consent to it.


I liked that post a lot. :)
Thank you for that wonderful description of that wonderful word... Nachvollziehbar.