Why do we prefer information that confirms our existing beliefs? (2023)

confirmation bias

A confirmation bias is a cognitive bias that favors information that confirms your beliefs or previously held beliefs.prejudices.

For example, suppose a person believes that left-handers are more creative than right-handers. Each time this person encounters a left-handed, creative person, he places more importance on that "evidence" that supports what he already believes. This individual may even look for evidence that further supports this belief and discard examples that do not support the idea.

Confirmation biases affect how we gather information, but they also influence how we interpret and remember information. For example, people who support or oppose a particular issue will not only seek information to support it, but will also interpret the news in a way that supports their existing ideas. They will also remember details in a way that reinforces thoseattitudes.

History of confirmation bias

The idea behind confirmation bias has been noted by philosophers and writers since ancient times. In the 1960s,cognitive psychologistPeter Wason performed several experiments known as the Wason Rule Discovery Task. He showed that people tend to seek information that confirms their existing beliefs.

Confirmation bias signs

When it comes to confirmation bias, there are often signs that a person is unknowingly or knowingly falling prey to it.Unfortunately, it can also be very subtle and difficult to detect. Some of these signs that can help you identify when you or someone else is experiencing this bias include:

  • Look only for information that confirms your beliefs and ignore or discredit information that does not support them.
  • Look for evidence that confirms what you already believe to be true, rather than considering all available evidence.
  • Relying on stereotypes or personal biases when evaluating information.
  • Selectively remember information that supports your views, forgetting or discarding information that does not.
  • Having a strong emotional reaction to information (positive or negative) that confirms your beliefs, while remaining relatively insensitive to information that does not.

Types of confirmation bias

There are a few different types of confirmation bias that can occur. Some of the most common ones include the following:

  • biased attention: That's when weselectively focuson information that confirms our views, ignoring or discarding data that does not.
  • biased interpretation: This is when we consciously interpret information in a way that confirms our beliefs.
  • biased memory: is when we selectively remember information that supports our opinions, while forgetting or discarding information that does not.

Examples of confirmation bias

It might be helpful to consider some examples of how confirmation bias works in everyday life to get a better idea of ​​the effects and impact it can have.

Interpretations of current issues

One of the most common examples of confirmation bias is how we seek or interpret the news. We are more likely to believe a story if it confirms our pre-existing opinions, even if the evidence presented is shaky or inconclusive.For example, if we support a particular political candidate, we are more likely to believe reports that paint him in a positive light, while dismissing or ignoring criticism.

Consider the gun control debate:

  • Let's say Sally supports gun control. Look for news and opinion articles that reaffirm the need to limit gun ownership. When you hear stories about shootings in the media, you interpret them in a way that supports your existing beliefs.
  • Henry, on the other hand, is strongly opposed to gun control. Look for news sources that align with his position. When he is faced with shooting news, he interprets it in a way that supports his current point of view.

These two people have very different opinions on the same subject, and their interpretations are based on their beliefs. Even if they read the same story, their bias shapes how they perceive details, further confirming their beliefs.

(Video) Why do we favor our existing beliefs?

Personal relationships

Another example of confirmation bias can be seen in the way we choose friends and associates. We are more likely to be attracted to and befriend people who share our same beliefs and values, and less likely to associate with those who do not. This can lead to an echo chamber effect, where we only hear information that confirms our views and never questions our views.

decision making

Confirmation bias can often lead tobad decision making. For example, if we are convinced that a certain investment is a good one, we might ignore the warning signs that it might not be. Or, if we are determined to get a job with a particular company, we may not consider other opportunities that might be a better fit for us.

Impact of conformation bias

Confirmation bias occurs due to the natural way in whichbrainworks, so removing it is impossible. While it's often seen as a negative tendency that undermines logic and decisions, it's not always a bad thing. Confirmation bias can significantly impact our lives, both positively and negatively. On the positive side, it can help us feel confident in our beliefs and values ​​and give us a sense of certainty and security.

Unfortunately, this kind of bias can prevent us from seeing situations objectively. It can also influence our decisions and lead to bad or wrong choices.

During election season, for example, people tend to look for positive information that puts their favorite candidates in a positive light. They will also look for information that puts the opposing candidate in a negative light.

By not looking for objective facts, interpreting information in a way that only supports their existing beliefs, and remembering details that support those beliefs, they often miss important information. These details and facts may have influenced your decision on which candidate to support.

How to overcome confirmation bias

There are a few different ways we can try to overcome confirmation bias:

  • Watch out for signs that you might be a victim of it. This includes being aware of your personal biases and how they might influence your decision-making.
  • Consider all available evidence, rather than just the evidence that supports your views.
  • Seek different perspectives, especially from those who hold opposing points of view.
  • Be willing to change your mind in light of new evidence, even if it means updating or even changing your current beliefs.

A Word from Verywell

Unfortunately, we all have confirmation bias. Even if you think it's too muchopen mindand just look at the facts before jumping to conclusions, some bias is likely to shape your opinion. It is very difficult to fight this natural tendency.

That said, if we are aware of confirmation bias and accept the fact that it exists, we can make an effort to recognize it by making an effort to be curious about opposing points of view and listen to what others have to say and why. what. This can help us better see issues and beliefs from another perspective, although we still need to be mindful to overcome our confirmation bias.

6 fonts

Verywell Mind only uses high quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. read ourpublishing processto learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. American Psychological Association.confirmation bias.APA Dictionary of Psychology.

  2. Wason PC.On failure to eliminate hypotheses in a conceptual task.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 1960;12(3):129-140. doi:10.1080/17470216008416717

  3. Satya-Murthy S, Lockhart J.Recognition and reduction of cognitive bias in clinical and forensic neurology.Neurol Clinic. October 2015; 5(5): 389-396. doi:10.1212/CPJ.00000000000000181

  4. Allahverdyan AE, Galstyan A.Opinion dynamics with confirmation bias.another. 2014;9(7):e99557. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0099557

  5. Frost P, Casey B, Griffin K, Raymundo L, Farrell C, Carrigan R. The influence of confirmation bias on recall and source tracing.J Gen Psychol. 2015;142(4):238-52. doi:10.1080/00221309.2015.1084987

    (Video) Confirmation Bias to Fit Existing Beliefs

  6. Suzuki M, Yamamoto Y.Characterization of the influence of confirmation bias on web search behavior.frontal psychology. 2021;12:771948. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.771948

further reading

  • Polética FH.Hypothesis testing behavior. Psychology press, 2013.

(Video) Can You Change Someone’s Beliefs? (Hint: It Takes More Than Facts)

Why do we prefer information that confirms our existing beliefs? (1)

Bykendra cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

See Our Editorial Process

(Video) Common Cognitive Biases in Your Everyday Life EXPLAINED// Regular Mental Errors Everyone Faces

Discover our assessment board

share comments

This page was helpful

Thank you for your comments!

What is your opinion?

(Video) CONFIRMATION BIAS, a topic of Social Psychology, described by Bruce Hinrichs (Scientific Psychology)


When you favor things that confirm your existing beliefs? ›

Confirmation bias is our tendency to cherry-pick information that confirms our existing beliefs or ideas. Confirmation bias explains why two people with opposing views on a topic can see the same evidence and come away feeling validated by it.

When we seek out information to confirm our beliefs What is this called? ›

Confirmation bias, a phrase coined by English psychologist Peter Wason, is the tendency of people to favor information that confirms or strengthens their beliefs or values and is difficult to dislodge once affirmed. Confirmation bias is an example of a cognitive bias.

Why do we rely on the confirmation bias? ›

Helps to process information. Some people believe that confirmation bias helps you sort efficiently through the large amount of information you see every day. Builds confidence. Other experts think that people seek out information to support their opinions to preserve or build their self-esteem.

What is confirmation bias and why is it significant to this study? ›

Confirmation bias often happens when we want certain ideas to be true. This leads individuals to stop gathering information when the retrieved evidence confirms their own viewpoints, which can lead to preconceived opinions (prejudices) that are not based on reason or factual knowledge.

What is confirmation bias Commonlit assessment answers? ›

Confirmation bias suggests that we don't perceive circumstances objectively. We pick out those bits of data that make us feel good because they confirm our prejudices. Thus, we may become prisoners of our assumptions.

What is a good example of confirmation bias? ›

For example, imagine that a person holds a belief that left-handed people are more creative than right-handed people. Whenever this person encounters a person that is both left-handed and creative, they place greater importance on this "evidence" supporting their already existing belief.


1. Why People Believe in Misinformation | ITP #28
(Insightful Thinkers Podcast)
2. Confirmation Bias: Or How Sister Aloysius Confirmed her Preexisting Beliefs in Doubt
(Go Nudge Yourself)
3. Rick Lindroth, "Climate Change and the Pursuit of Truth in a Post Truth World"
4. The Confirmation Bias (Episode 30)
(Answers in Genesis Canada)
5. How to Spot Confirmation Bias in the Media
6. 21 Mind Traps : The Ultimate Guide to your most common Thinking errors
(Escaping Ordinary (B.C Marx) )


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Carlyn Walter

Last Updated: 08/10/2023

Views: 5618

Rating: 5 / 5 (50 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Carlyn Walter

Birthday: 1996-01-03

Address: Suite 452 40815 Denyse Extensions, Sengermouth, OR 42374

Phone: +8501809515404

Job: Manufacturing Technician

Hobby: Table tennis, Archery, Vacation, Metal detecting, Yo-yoing, Crocheting, Creative writing

Introduction: My name is Carlyn Walter, I am a lively, glamorous, healthy, clean, powerful, calm, combative person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.