Many people tend to think of themselves as rational and logical thinkers. Unfortunately, we are only humans, and our humanity comes with irrationality and biased thinking.
One of the most common forms of irrationality involves confirmation bias. It is when people disproportionately confirm their beliefs instead of disproving them.
Confirmation bias can be subtle and encompassing, and it has the potential for significant real-life impacts. However, learning more about this cognitive bias should help you prepare countermeasures and maintain rational thinking.
Confirmation bias can creep into many cognitive processes. It has impacts on information gathering, interpretation, and memory recall.
One way that confirmation bias can manifest is when testing a hypothesis. It turns out that most people naturally seek information that tends to confirm their beliefs. When it comes to trying to disprove their theories, people tend to show less diligence. They may even choose to ignore contradictory evidence altogether.
Confirmation bias also affects interpretation. Even if people encounter objective evidence that contradicts their beliefs, they tend to deprioritize them when judging the merits of their viewpoint.
Confirmation bias can even affect recall. People tend to more clearly remember details that support what they already believe to be true. Again, there’s a tendency to overlook contradicting evidence.
Unfortunately, what makes confirmation bias more dangerous is its insidious nature. People may wrongly believe that fallacies are not influencing their thought processes. In many cases, though, people adopt confirmation bias seamlessly that they cannot even detect its presence.
Complicating factors can increase the strength of confirmation bias. Emotionally charged situations can amplify the tendency to cling to your own beliefs, given how emotions can suppress logical thinking.
Concepts that form one’s core identity, such as fundamental beliefs, are also more sensitive to confirmation bias. In this case, challenges to one’s perspective can be interpreted as attacks on themselves.
Learn more about confirmation bias by reading the FAQs below.
What is an example of confirmation bias?
Confirmation bias skews a person’s perspective. There is selective retention of information aligned to their own opinions. An example of confirmation bias is choosing to read materials that only support your views. It may lead to difficulty in discerning fake news. Then, it can eventually cause misinformation.
Why is confirmation bias a problem?
Letting confirmation bias dictate your views can cause risky behavior. It can negatively impact your relationships with others. Selective retention of information can lead to ignoring warnings and precautions.
Communication problems can stem from wanting to be right all the time. It can put a strain and possibly destroy your relationships.
What are the 3 types of bias?
Types of confirmation bias are:
- Biased information,
- Interpretation bias, and
- Memory bias.
Biased information is seeking information that only supplements and feeds on your current perspective. Interpretation bias relates to how people interpret evidence presented to them. No matter how opposing these are, they will fit it in their views. Lastly, memory bias happens when active recall and selection of memories happen.
What is the confirmation bias fallacy?
Fallacies occur when you seek information to give more weight to your opinions. You would instead do it than constructively work on them. It makes you numb to other people’s views. You eventually devalue or invalidate their truth.
How do you avoid confirmation bias?
You can avoid confirmation bias by seeking information different from yours. By asking questions, you can recognize lapses within your judgment. Having an attitude of an open mind will help broaden your perspective.
What are the 5 types of bias?
The five types of cognitive bias are:
- Confirmation bias,
- Fundamental attribution, and
- Gambler’s fallacy.
Confirmation bias tends to filter or interpret information to fit your views. Similar to this is overconfidence or over-relying on your knowledge. Anchoring is a bias where you readily jump to conclusions even with little information.
Another type is fundamental attribution. It is where you blame other people for bad things that happen to you. Lastly, Gambler’s Fallacy is a bias where past events solely dictate the future.
Is confirmation bias good or bad?
Confirmation bias clouds judgment most of the time. It can then lead to harmful actions directed at yourself or others. Difficulties in accepting that people can have different opinions result in relational problems. In severe cases of confirmation bias, it can affect your daily life.
People with confirmation bias should keep an open mind. It can strengthen their values and have “better” views.
How does Confirmation bias affect our thinking?
Seeking information in your favor hugely affects vital cognitive processes. It can affect decision-making, judgment, and interpretation.
The constant denial of opposing information can create lapses. It disables the ability to see the whole truth of varying perspectives. There is a tendency to force the information to fit into the skewed view.
What is another term for confirmation bias?
Myside bias is another term for confirmation bias. It involves assessing and generating ideas based on their own. It seeks to validate one’s point while invalidating others’ opinions.
How do you use confirmation bias to your advantage?
In some situations, decision-making processes are easier with confirmation bias. The brain’s shortcuts can help arrive at a decision fast during hard times. It is also useful in convincing people to set goals that align with their own.
What is the opposite of confirmation bias?
The opposite of confirmation bias is belief perseverance. In confirmation bias, people try to fit the evidence to their perspectives. Meanwhile, belief perseverance is inclined to outright rejection.
What is confirmation bias, and how does it work?
Confirmation bias is a type of cognitive bias that involves selective collection and interpretation of evidence. It reframes information to fit personal beliefs. Confirmation bias tends to choose the easier route and affirm what you know.
What is cognitive bias?
Cognitive biases are errors that may happen when you process and interpret information. These biases affect our cognitive processes and are usually subconscious behaviors. Our brain takes shortcuts to preserve energy. However, it may produce faults in our thought process.
What does selection bias mean?
Selection bias is a term used to describe inaccuracies in experiments. It happens where chosen subjects are not representative of the whole population. Typically, it occurs due to the failure to randomize. It may end up invalidating study results.
How do you control bias?
You can control bias by opening yourself to different views and perspectives. Asking for help in assessing your views assisted with constructive feedback may also be helpful.
Impacts of Confirmation Bias
Given the status of confirmation bias as a cognitive fallacy, it can introduce irrationality into thought processes. In turn, confirmation bias can lead people to believe the wrong conclusions and making misguided decisions.
For instance, confirmation bias drives people to preferentially seek evidence that supports their beliefs instead of information that can disprove them. People may overestimate the accuracy of their hypotheses, even in the face of contradictory evidence.
Peter Cathcart Wason demonstrated this tendency to look for information supporting a given view through a series of experiments in the 1960s. These methods, known as Wason’s rule discovery task, provide empirical evidence of confirmation bias’s workings.
Confirmation bias causes people to discredit or ignore information that is not aligned with their perspective. Without taking a balanced viewpoint, people influenced by this bias can make judgments that are not backed by logic.
At its worst, confirmation bias can cause people with different initial beliefs to adopt more extreme views. This polarization of opinions is a factor behind many of the socio-political issues expressed by many people.
Fortunately, there are many techniques to avoid confirmation bias. Often, the cognitive fault is commonplace and hard to detect. But there are practices in analysis and decision-making that can mitigate its effects.
The most straightforward approach is to look for evidence that runs counter to your beliefs actively. Carefully weigh the supporting and dissenting information you have. Through this, you get a more nuanced view of your beliefs.
In the data-gathering stage, it helps to focus on collecting as much data as possible. Don’t jump to conclusions prematurely. Without preconceived beliefs, you are less likely to allow confirmation bias to creep into your thought processes.
Formulating multiple hypotheses can also help. By not fixating on a single perspective, you can more fairly judge the evidence you have and eventually stick to the idea most supported by evidence.
Finally, share your thought process with trusted colleagues. By applying the perspectives of other people, you can filter many cognitive biases.
Being more aware of confirmation bias and counteracting it can help you live a more rational life.