The curious case of grit

A few months ago some friends were raving about the remake movie that had just come out, “true grit.”  They thought the action was intense, the girl who played Mattie was fantastic, etc… Concurrently, some of my other friends lamented on how much they really enjoyed the original more.  Having not heard of the movie before, the sane thing to do was to watch both… right?

So a few weeks ago I got the first version of true grit in.  I really enjoyed it, despite it’s overall campy feel and a lack of any real sense of dread.  Last night I got the new version delivered (thank you netflix)– and with the promise of a darker more gritty version of the story, I watched it.

Now…  I could say that I found the remake to be less of a story and more of a sequence of events.  I could also say that it wasn’t much grittier, and indeed because of the differences in direction of plot I found it not very good at all.  But in both cases, I am more curious about how much the decision to watch the first movie negatively affected the second.

Dan Ariely might call this “anchoring.”  The first movie sits in my mind as the measure.  The remake of this movie was watched subconsciously through the comparative eyes of the original.  The acting of the individuals in the remake was not seen for their actual efforts, but only with regard to who originally played the role.  I thought the original Mattie was much better, but that doesn’t mean the second actress did a bad job.  Watching the first movie also set a series of expectations.  Had I not watched the original, the fact that Tom Chaney’s character was not developed as strongly in the remake wouldn’t have bothered me at all.

My guess though, is that you have likely experience this same thing… so why write about it?

My job is to evaluate and exploit security weaknesses in applications/websites.  And as much as I’d like to think that I look at each site with a clean slate– my guess is that I view everything I’ve tested under some context of anchor from the past.  Not only do I have anchors set from building and testing particular types sites and types of languages, I am also willing to bet I have them with testing various vulnerabilities.

I’ve so far been very successful in identifying problems with apps– but the question becomes, am I predisposed through my anchors to see just what I want, or to see what exists?  Does my first experience negatively or positively impact my second experience testing something?  How would I even be able to tell the difference?  Am I more inclined to chase a vulnerability that I’ve had a positive experience with over a negative one?

I have no answers with this, mind you.  Just observations on stuff I face every day during a test– consciously or not.  Am I really experiencing an app, or just riding the waves of the past?

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