Good scientists are not immune from confirmation bias. They are aware of it and avail themselves of procedural safeguards against its pernicious effects.
She grappled with confirmation bias which causes more negotiations to break down than just about any other set of biases we’re heir to.
People often show a preference for information that confirms their attitudes and beliefs, and this tendency is reduced for opinions that are not held with conviction. The present study shows that both decided and undedcided individuals show a tendency to selectively expose themselves to confirmatory information, albeit with difference antecedents and consequences.... Selective exposure led undecided participants to adopt conscious beliefs that were in line with their preexisting automatic associations.
When information threatens their positive self-views, people usually think in ways that enable them to ignore, discredit, or minimize the significance of the threatening information (Greenwald, 1980). Research supports this conclusion using many types of information including health feedback (Liberman & Chaiken, 1992), personality feedback (Kunda, 1987), and information threatening a personally important attitude or belief (Munro & Ditto, 1997). The term motivated reasoning has been used to refer to cases like these when a person's thought processes and outcomes are influenced by a preference to arrive at a conclusion that has favorable implications for the self-concept.
From a marketing perspective, confirmation bias presents a real problem when consumers search internally for only positive information about the competition. One way marketers attack this problem is to draw attention to negative aspects of competitive brands through comparative advertising. Apple has done this with ads comparing its easy-to-use computer operating systems with those made by Microsoft for PCs.
Looking for the potential weaknesses and disconfirming evidence regarding decisions and solutions is a significant element of effective group decision making and problem solving (Orlitzky & Hirokawa, 2001). Assessing positive qualities or consequences is not nearly as important. Thus, groups that resist confirmation bias and actively search for possible flaws in decisions and solutions usually make better choices than groups that don't.
In another experiment, psychologists were asked to review a paper submitted for journal publication in their field. They rated the paper’s methodology, data presentation and scientific contribution significantly more favorably when the paper happened to offer results consistent with their own theoretical stance. Identical research methods prompted a very different response in those whose scientific opinion was challenged.
In a classic psychology experiment, people for and against the death penalty were asked to evaluate the different research designs of two studies of its deterrent effect on crime. One study showed that the death penalty was an effective deterrent; the other showed that it was not. Which of the two research designs the participants deemed the most scientifically valid depended mostly on whether the study supported their views on the death penalty.
We get 43,200 bits of data a day, or 1.296 million a month. Even assuming that 99.999 percent of these bits are totally meaningless (and so we filter them out or forget them entirely), that still leaves 1.3 “miracles” a month, or 15.5 miracles a year.
Thanks to our confirmation bias, in which we look for and find confirmatory evidence for what we already believe and ignore or discount contradictory evidence, we will remember only those few astonishing coincidences and forget the vast sea of meaningless data.
If we are defining confirmation bias as a tendency to favor information that confirms our previously held beliefs, it strikes me as ironic to think that it is almost exclusively discussed as a hindrance to knowledge and better decision-making, or as an aid to argumentation and persuasion as reinforced by Mercier and Sperber. With such a broad definition, I think it also explains our aesthetic judgments. That is, just as we only look for what confirms our scientific hypotheses and personal decisions, we likewise only listen to music and observe art that confirms our preconceived notions of good and bad aesthetics.