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Confirmation bias explained | Glossary | Internet knowledge

Confirmation bias is the tendency we humans have to look for confirmation of what we already believe in and ignore information that contradicts our beliefs.

Also known as: confirmation bias,confirmation conflict, confirmationbias

What is confirmation bias?

We humans have a built-in willingness to affirm our own worldview, which means that we constantly overestimate affirmative information. This means that if we have a definite opinion and receive information that speaks for that opinion, then we often buy it straight off. When the information instead goes against what we think, we dismiss or question and look for errors.

Confirmation bias is often relatively easy to see even in oneself. Think, for example, of your political sympathies. You are probably much more inclined to agree with the party you sympathize with than to accept arguments from the opposite side, no matter what it is about or how well-founded it is.

Another example is how many people with low self-esteem tend to take issue with criticism but miss, or quickly forget, praise.

Risks with confirmation bias

The tendency to confirmation bias is often stronger when it comes to topics that are current and that arouse strong emotions in us. Some examples are the climate, vaccination and immigration.

The great risks of confirmation bias arise when a person’s beliefs are pure prejudice, with little or no grounding in reality. If the person’s beliefs are strong and emotional, they tend not to absorb or care about facts that point in another direction.

Confirmation bias and internet

With the internet, it has become easier to find both information and other people who confirm what you believe in. Both search engines and social media such as Facebook present content to us based on what we were interested in before, which can lead to us being shown even more content that confirms what we believe in.

Another risk with confirmation bias is that we are looking for simple solutions to things that are really complicated. That we see things as either black or white.

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