Confirmation Bias

Why are we always right ?

By Basu Nepal

Psychology has been one of crucial factor in almost everything still it’s not commonly discussed topics like science or happiness or success. Due to the pandemic, I got a chance to enroll in social psychology class offered in Coursera by Wesleyan University. I have always tried learning various psychological terms and tips as soon as I got some time to learn. This was my first structured course on psychology none the less.

Social psychology is the study of how people think about, influence and relate to one another. It’s all about the way people are interacting in a society in presence of another individual, being in a social environment.

There are lots of terminology and research related to psychology, I will first start with the term confirmation bias.

Bias is unfair inclination in favor or against an idea or a philosophy without any proper reasoning, we as a human have been and are always biased towards or against something. It doesn’t matter about the mindset or intellectual capacity, it’s all our nature. As a human being, we have same way of operating inside our brain thus leading to bias.

We can be biased toward lots of things that we don’t even notice in real life, for example even supporting our favorite team or player. It can lead to a fixed stereotype mindset resulting in even more biased behavior towards other.

we tend to search and interpret information just to confirm our prior belief

Confirmation bias is psychological phenomena which means we tend to process and analyze information in a way that support our initial belief towards something. It means we tend to search and interpret information in favor of a belief we hold initially, just to confirm our prior belief rather than contradicting the original belief.

When people are trying to recall some memory, they tend to recall only those thought and memory that favor their original belief and ignore memory that contradict their prior belief, which makes them feel even stronger about their original belief. Sometimes people are biased because of interpretation, two people with contradicting thought can conclude two different meaning and interpretation from the same piece of evidence or information hence resulting in conformation bias.

Research suggests that people are more focused on confirming their belief rather than contradicting their belief, thus ignoring lots of evidence that may contradict their prior belief. It is mostly not an intentional way of processing information, resulting from the way we have to deal with lots of information in our daily life.

Humans are bombarded with lots and lots of information, to make an unbiased decision, one has to go through all the information which takes time and memory resource so, they tend to ignore some of the fact to save time and resource which in result gives biased decision.

Sometimes, people also favor toward some biased belief to protect their self-esteem. People feel good and happy when their belief is right and feel opposite when contradicted hence, they try to come up with biased interpretation just to confirm their belief, ignoring all the conflicting information that may decrease their self-esteem.

People feel good and happy when their belief is right and feel opposite when contradicted.

Another reason for confirmation bias can be cognitive dissonance, it’s a situation that occurs when a person holds two conflicting belief and ideas, where one goes against another creating a discomfort in brain. When a person holds two belief, they feel discomfort due to their conflicting nature, hence they tend to ignore one of the beliefs inclining towards another thus creating a bias.

It helps for person to hold a strong belief toward something creating a life long belief, which may or may not be true. That’s the reason we see many people believing in some weird or completely illogical fact (like flat earth believers) simply because they are unwilling to accept the fact that they may be wrong, have fixed mindset resisting change and try to protect their self-esteem by ignoring all the facts that contradict their belief.

We can be susceptible to confirmation bias, knowingly or unknowingly but we can always try to look for alternative and contracting hypothesis just to be sure we are not holding a thought that is completely biased.

It is very important to have an open mindset with will to accept that our belief may be wrong and willingness to change our belief and also see the contradicting information. It’s an only way to not have confirmation bias.

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