No one likes to admit they are biased.
But we are all biased.
We are humans, and confirmation bias is one of the most common mental errors most people make.
Becoming aware of your confirmation bias is the first step to doing anything about it.
The more you recognize yourself falling for this error, the more you’ll be able to reduce its pernicious effects in your life.
Confirmation bias is your brain’s tendency to pay attention to information that supports what you want to believe while simultaneously ignoring information that challenges you.
In every situation, you will find data to support or refute any and every perspective.
There is always the good, bad, ugly, and gray, and your brain cannot take it all in, so it picks and chooses.
When your brain picks and chooses certain information over others, it usually does so in a way to prevent cognitive dissonance, which is the mental pain you experience when your belief systems are challenged.
We all experience cognitive dissonance, and we are all biased. This is an inescapable reality of the human experience.
Fortunately, we all have the opportunity to do something about it.
What are examples of confirmation bias in real life?
Here are a couple.
1. You send an article about a politician you dislike to a friend.
You feel this articles supports your dislike of this candidate. To your surprise, your friend responds that she feels this article supports why she supports this candidate.
How can one article produce entirely different outcomes for different people?
Confirmation bias is the reason.
2. Social interactions
Confirmation bias rears its ugly head in relationships.
Let’s say you text someone, and they don’t get back to you right away.
And maybe you were nervous this person didn’t like you or doesn’t respect you fully. So you take their lack of a response as a sign that your theory is correct.
Later on, however, you find out they lost their phone.
Does this make you realize how you shouldn’t have assumed anyhow your brain was playing tricks on you?
If you are like most people, you don’t learn that lesson. So you go on repeating the same mistake of interpreting social interactions in whatever negative way supports your insecurities or worries.
The examples of confirmation bias in everyday life are endless.
The key to overcoming this bias is to detach yourself from your ego Thebes you can. Only when you can separate your ego’s desire to think a certain way from the reality of the information in front of you can you do anything to mitigate its toxic pull on your psyche.
Ask yourself the following question, “Does this support what I want to believe?”
If it does, ask yourself this: “Is it painful for me to accept this information because I want to believe something else?”
Keep pulling on that thread. The more you do, the closer to objective truth you’ll get.
It’s not easy, but you can become far more self-aware and thus less susceptible to confirmation bias than the average person over time.