Confirmation Bias – You Do Have It, You Just Aren’t Aware Of It

Have you ever found yourself searching for information or even interpreting a certain data in a way that confirms your stand on a certain subject? If so, then you have indulged in what psychologists term as confirmation or ‘conformity bias’.

The weird thing about confirmation bias is that it starts from a logical place, in that you actually begin searching and analyzing information in a scientific manner. Thus, it is a form of inductive reasoning, where you search for evidences to base your conclusion.

Studies done about conformity bias show how its applied in real-life scenarios and discussions to mask other logical errors. Lets look at three such examples.

  1. Consider a discussion that you may be having with a colleague, friend, spouse or relative. In the course of this discussion, your point of inferences have been shown to be incorrect. However, you still persist with your belief despite all the evidence that has been shown to you. Such a situation is what experts term as belief perseverance.
  2. Another scenario where you and another person are presented with the same evidence. However, both of you are in disagreement over how it should be interpreted. It is something that happens a lot with statistical studies, where the numbers get interpreted in two or more different ways. This is what is known as attitude polarization.
  3. Sometimes, there can occur an error in misreading the connection or the lack of it between two situations or events. This too then gives rise to a perception of your analysis being right since you have two or more events which point in that direction. Such an error in perception is known as illusory correlation.

There can be many such scenarios but a common breeding ground for conformity bias is emotionally charged scenarios or arguments that have to do with one party’s deeply entrenched beliefs.

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