Definition: The tendency to attend to evidence that complements and confirms to our beliefs or expectations, while ignoring evidence that does not.

Quite Simply...

  • Focusing only on information that coincides with your beliefs or opinions and ignoring information that proves your ideas false.
  • Only listening what you already believe is right, not listening to anyone else's beliefs.
  • Searching for information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions, leading to statistical errors in experiments.
  • Decision makers have been shown to actively seek out and assign more weight to evidence that confirms their hypothesis, and ignore or underweigh evidence that could disconfirm their hypothesis which

Examples of Confirmation Bias

  • In an experiment, researchers may take the data they receive that supports their hypothesis and focus on it while ignoring the other data.
  • Listening only to political candidates who you already agree with while ignoring the opposing party.
  • Watching only fox news as a conservative or watching only MSNBC if you are a liberal.
  • Looking up disease symptoms on and focusing on the few symptoms that you have while ignoring the many that you don't.
  • Only listening to music that you like and shutting out other music styles.
  • When you have a pessimistic outlook you look at all of the negative aspects of a situation and disregard all of the positives.
  • Reading your horoscope everyday, listening to it when it says something good will happen, and ignoring it when it says something bad will happen.
  • A reporter who is writing an article on an important issue may only interview experts that support her or his views on the issue.
  • A student who is going to write a research paper may primarily search for information that would confirm his or her beliefs.


See Also