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9 Examples of Confirmation Bias

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Confirmation bias is the practice of giving preference to information that confirms your opinion, desires or worldview. This can involve actively avoiding information that may disprove your beliefs. The following are illustrative examples.

Filter Bubble

A filter bubble is a class of algorithms, artificial intelligence, user interfaces and media outlets that help people to find information that comfortably aligns to their worldview. For example, a social media platform where you follow people you agree with and unfollow them the moment they say something you don't agree with. Over time, this creates a filter bubble whereby you are only exposed to information that confirms your opinions.

Biased Search

Structuring search queries to conform to your belief. For example, searching for "oranges cure insomnia" might return search results that encourage this preconceived opinion. However, a more objective search would be "insomnia treatment."

Cherry Picking

Cherry picking is the practice of choosing data that matches your hypothesis or opinion while arbitrarily excluding data that doesn't match. For example, finding one negative review in a list of 1000 mostly positive reviews to confirm your idea that a particular mobile device isn't very good.

Illusory Correlation

Seeing patterns based on limited data, often while excluding data that doesn't match your opinion. For example, concluding that all blue cars have bad drivers based on a small number of observations. This may ignore a large amount of data such as the thousands of blue cars that you have seen that weren't driving badly.

Correlation Equals Causation

Incorrectly assuming that correlation equals causation in order to confirm an opinion. For example, noticing that people wear masks when they have hay fever, so masks must cause hay fever.

Selective Memory

Remembering the information that supports your opinion while failing to remember the information that doesn't. For example, recalling negative information about someone when you seek to criticize them without recalling their many positive deeds and attributes.

Backfire Effect

The backfire effect is a tendency to harden an opinion when confronted with contrary evidence. This can involve a search for information that confirms your opinion. For example, an individual exposed to bleak data about an environmental problem may seek out opinions that suggest everything is going to be alright.

Motivated Reasoning

Motivated reasoning is the influence of emotion on thinking. For example, an investor who seeks out positive information for a company they want to buy. This may aggressively exclude inconvenient information that doesn't confirm that their desire to purchase this stock is logical.

Denial

Denial is a strong form of confirmation bias whereby you have a great deal of evidence that you are wrong but can't change your mind such that you rely on excuses. For example, an alcoholic who has ample evidence that alcohol consumption is having a negative impact on their life who tries to focus on increasingly scarce positive aspects of the habit such as "stress relief." In many cases, a person in denial relies on illusory arguments that a reasonable independent observer would view as invalid.
Overview: Confirmation Bias
Type
Definition
The practice of giving preference to information that confirms your opinion, desires or worldview.
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