Do you give weightage to those things that confirm your beliefs?
You may think that you are a rational being, but your ideas are often biased.
Because, in reality, most of us are susceptible to a tricky problem known as a confirmation bias. Our beliefs are based on paying attention to the information that upholds them, while at the same time ignoring the information that challenges them.
Let's dive a little deeper and understand more about confirmation bias.
According to the American Psychological Association, Confirmation Bias is the tendency to look for information that supports, rather than rejects, one's preconceptions, typically by interpreting evidence to confirm existing beliefs while rejecting or ignoring any conflicting data.
For example, imagine a person believes that left-handed people are more creative than right-handed people. Whenever this person encounters a left-handed and creative person, they place greater importance on this "evidence" that supports what they already believe.
This person might seek proof to back up this belief while discounting instances that don't support the idea.
Confirmation bias impacts how we gather information, but they also influence how we interpret and recall information.
For example, people who support or oppose something will not only seek information to support it; they will also interpret it in a way that upholds their existing ideas.
Why does Confirmation bias happen?
Confirmation bias is a cognitive shortcut we use when gathering and interpreting information. Evaluating evidence takes time and energy, and so our brain looks for such shortcuts to make the process more efficient.
We look for evidence that best supports our existing hypotheses because the most readily available hypotheses are the ones we already have. Another reason why we sometimes show confirmation bias is that it protects our self-esteem.
No one likes feeling bad about themselves– and realising that a belief they valued is false can have this effect. As a result, we often look for information that supports rather than disproves our existing beliefs.
Does confirmation bias work in our favour?
Well, most of the time, confirmation bias is working against us.
Let me give you an example:
I believe that I'm a great driver, but when it comes to parking, maybe not, especially reverse and parallel parking. So, every time I try to tackle a difficult parking spot, i.e. reverse parking, I happen to struggle. It takes me a lot of time to park my car in that spot.
And what is that doing to my brain?
It's telling my brain exactly what I believe, that I am not good at parking.
These simple ideas prove the point that your thoughts lead to your behaviours. Your behaviours lead to your actions, and your actions rule your life. So you need to change your thoughts!
Why is Confirmation bias important?
Our decisions cannot be fully informed if we only focus on evidence that confirms our assumptions. It can cause us to overlook pivotal information both in our careers and everyday life.
A business executive might fail to investigate a new opportunity because of a negative past engagement with similar ideas.
Hence, it is good to approach situations and decisions with an open mind.
And awareness of confirmation bias is the first step.
So, understand the idea of confirmation bias. Give yourself a scan the next time you think you can't do something.
Now, take a chance to prove to yourself that you can do it.