Confirmation Bias Definition – What Actually Sits Behind Your Reasoning?
Do you believe that logic and objective judgment have been dictating your life until now? Not many would assume the opposite or at least won’t admit it publicly. In a day and age where the impartial AI still seems like a tiny dot on the horizon of human evolution, it looks as though emotion and prejudice are still in the driving seat of our decision-making. So, let there be no doubt – It’s abundantly clear that reasoning slanted towards the outcome we favour to begin with, is wishful thinking in all but name.
Our brain tends to highlight the information in support of our deep-seated beliefs while merely glossing over the details that confront them. Do we need to close the book on cognitive bias for good or is there a way around that phenomenon?
Confirmation Bias – the Problem
How often do you let your mind be changed or opinion formed by newly obtained information? We all believe rational thinking to be the motor of our evolution as a species, the determining factor behind dos and don’ts. However, a series of psychological experiments drive a coach and horses through the claims backing this thesis. The truth of the matter is, rarely do we leave our comfort zone in the light of objective evidence. Sad as it may sound, this irrational behavior can be explained.
The idea of aimlessly swinging life away on the spur of emotional impulses is not the easiest thing to stomach, though we’ll try and tackle it from different angles and hopefully find out
why that is.
What Is confirmation Bias?
The problem lies deeper than you think, and we are guilty all the same for its existence in the first place. It’s often insisted that a few grey hairs here and there are enough to keep one’s head cool, although the issue of confirmation bias goes far beyond age. If we were to define it with broad brush strokes, it would be something of the sort: subconsciously weeding out the evidence or information so that what we’re left with substantiates our view on the matter. Sifting through information in this manner is never a good thing, though there’s little we can do when the double-standard comes from our brain.
This condition takes many forms, one of which is interpreting equivocal evidence in a way that advocates our own actions or inactions. Put simply, the person susceptible to confirmation bias sees what they want to see.
What Does Confirmation Bias Mean?
The so-called “beauty” of our mind could be a spurious blessing as it is doubly deceiving. A case in point is the very real and present danger of confirmation bias, so mercurial and subtle, at the same time affecting a great deal everything in our life. Another way to put it is that information is processed selectively by our mental faculties, dropping out the “inconvenient” truths.
What this means is that we are incapable of acting on evidence in an emotionally detached way, which in turn, destabilizes the credibility of our judgment. Furthermore, it compromises the very foundation of a good investment plan – consistently taking informed decisions until the goal is reached.
Biased Research – Are There Any Consequences?
It’s not hard to see that we look intently for information that justifies what we have already decided to do or hypothesized about without so much as a second guess. Where does this negligent behavior derive from? Scientists have tried to find what clouds our mind to the extent that we would overlook the obvious only to make the conclusions that float our boat. The roots of this psychological condition called biased research are deeply seeded in the belief system of every individual. It’s extremely hard to get to grips with something so abstract, but let’s give it a shot.
Like it or not, our brain has been preconditioned by the media, the people around us and life in general, causing us to think a certain way that feels comfortable. Thus, inevitably creating emotional connections to things of sentimental value that uphold our agenda. This causes people to conveniently surround themselves with facts that don’t go against their reasoning nor values.
Even in their work and studies people affected by the biased research syndrome are incapable of performing objective research. Instead, they look at the facts through the lens of their own credo or deliberately seek out only information that backs it up. They refuse to take into account the other side of the coin and cling onto their beliefs even in the face of disproving evidence.
Confirmation bias is not present only in the way we conduct a research or study, the plot thickens, even more, when it comes to interpreting information. It turns out the mind can find a door even in one-sided evidence only to superimpose our deeply held convictions. A study shows that after reading a short report on a hot-button issue, people are more likely to change their initial position than in looking into its detailed version.
The experiment suggests that people look resolutely for bits and pieces that resonate with their theory, instead of looking at the paper in its entirety. In a situation like this, the subconscious comes to the surface in a self-assertive manner persuading us to see what we want to see. In other words, we inadvertently set higher standards for the pieces of information that encourage us to change our mind. On the other hand, we readily find toeholds here and there to help solidify our original expectations.
Confirmation Bias Example
We must come to terms with the fact that most choices we make are emotionally charged. It’s not necessary to look further than our thought process when betting on sports. Often times when little money is on the line we are disposed to acting on a whim rather than logic. Be it for the bragging rights or because we are sympathetic towards one of the teams, we usually want to tick too many boxes at one blow: rake in the cash, get the shot of dopamine and celebrate with the boys. In the most severe of cases, this behavior can evolve into full-blown fanaticism. Hopefully, not too many people are prone to going this far on the scale of confirmation bias.
If you want to get technical on the betting example, we must look it from the “what if” angle. What if we wager on the other team? It’s like putting one’s trust in them, even if it’s just a game, this can prove to be impossible for the hard-boiled football fan if they have to bet against their favourite club. Alone, the thought of backing the other side means that they would want them to win, which in the code of a die-hard fan is just as bad as treason.
In this way, playing down the fact that the opposing team might be performing better, we talk ourselves into making the wrong choice. Going down the path of discreditation of known facts for fear of being taken down a peg, we often tend to confirm only what’s of little importance and miss the big picture.
Hiding in plain sight, confirmation bias is centuries old paradox that keeps rearing its ugly head when least expected and there aren’t any signs of this changing any time soon. Don’t do yourself a disservice, trying hard to reach a contrived conclusion. We ought to learn from our mistakes and try to minimize them but this is only achievable through a critical exam and objective thinking.
We’re bound to be more or less affected by the phenomenon of confirmation bias, though we have to be recognizant of its existence and take decisive steps to ultimately replacing it with open-minded analysis. It’s by changing our current frame of mind that we grow and better our abilities.