The Role of Confirmation Bias


While relatively few of us are experts in the field of psychology, the underlying principles still impact our everyday lives.

Our perception of the world is largely based upon belief systems that have developed over time. Some of these have been present since birth (such as the understanding of gravity) while others are moulded around experiences. Although many of our perceptions are extremely useful, it needs to be mentioned that others could very well be misleading.

One example is known as confirmation bias. What does this principle entail? How does its presence shape the ways in which we react to our environment? Are there any downsides to keep in mind? You will find the answers to these questions relatively interesting.

ConfIrmation Bias at a Glance

A simple example will highlight the role that confirmation bias plays. Let's imagine for a moment that you are a die-hard fan of a specific football team. In your eyes, they can do no wrong and are always destined to become the underdogs.

Assuming for a moment that you place a wager based solely off of this perception, you might not be appreciating the “big picture” in regards to other possible outcomes. In other words, confirmation bias involves the mental habit of forming an opinion and not possessing the ability to change this perception when circumstances may dictate otherwise.

Faith in religions, believing a certain news media outlet over the others and even some social interactions are all governed by confirmation bias.

Potential Drawbacks

The most obvious disadvantage of this perspective is the fact that it is very difficult to view a specific event with an objective point of view. In some ways, it can be viewed similarly to a specific voting demographic who still supports a candidate due to personal beliefs even if he or she is lo longer fit for office.

Another problem here is that confirmation bias will sometimes tend to cause individuals to believe that they have control over a specific outcome (even if the results in question are quite random).

This can be seen in those who regularly play games such as blackjack, bingo and roulette. Once again, confirmation bias can cloud judgement due to the fact that it may not take into account other important variables (such as the number of players, the house odds or the simple principle of randomisation.

This is one of the reason why some avid fans tend to lose a significant amount of money and still refuse to change their overall strategies.

We should finally point out that confirmation bias is part of human nature. This mentality has existed in one form or another since mankind first learned to process the surrounding environment.

Although this served many important purposes in the past (such as knowing which fruits were dangerous to ingest based off of past experiences), it can prove to be slightly problematic in modern times. This is why being aware of its influence can help us to overcome the downfalls mentioned above, especially when betting on your favourite teams.

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