I am working on a product and it works based on building queries and logical expressions. I am faced with a dilemma to design the product.

  1. A simple to understand method without any AND/OR logic, HOWEVER, Some redundancy and overwork for the end-user to create multiple similar items.
  2. Another method with super fast output, easy to edit all rules without any redundancy, HOWEVER, it requires AND/OR expressions knowledge.

As boolean expressions look natural to me, I have no idea what percentage of average web users can't/can build and understand a Boolean expression like the following expression:

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More info:

  • Target users are web marketers and almost techies, however NOT software engineers
  • I understand it is not simple to tell an accurate number about people knowledge, so I would like to know your estimate or a similar experience you may have had.
  • Please provide some example. So that the others can help Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 14:37

2 Answers 2


In About Face it is suggested that the average user does not understand boolean logic. That's because in common language AND and OR have different meaning than they have in boolean algebra.

For example, if I want all users whose age equals 15 or 30, I could say: "give me all users whose age is 15 and 30." It's pretty clear to a programmer that that and is actually a boolean or, but is that clear for the average user?

Same goes for or, which can be used as a boolean XOR.

  • Your example is beautiful.
    – Kousha
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 21:49
  • Does that mismatch hold for ranges? "15 .. 30" / "between 15 and 30" / >15 and <30 / even ">=15 and <=30"
    – rogerovo
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 10:22
  • @rogerovo: nice question. The article linked by PhillipW might shed some light on that.
    – bigstones
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 17:34

There's rather a lot in this article - and it's rather heavy going psychology: but the bottom line is that most people are rather rubbish at formal logic and deductive and inductive thinking:

It's based on experiments called the 'Wason Verification Task'


  • The article was interesting, however it is difficult to relate it to the topic.
    – Kousha
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 22:03
  • Yes its quite heavy going: however it covers experimental evidence that people aren't good at 'formal logic' which of course is what boolean is all about.
    – PhillipW
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 7:09

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