What is Confirmation Bias?
When a person gets fixated on a specific idea, is convinced that it is true, then goes to research or find information to further support their belief, then that person has what we call a confirmation bias.
Confirmation bias is a tendency of a person to actively look for, interpret, and stick to that information that matches their preconceived beliefs and notions. This, in turn, may refrain the person from looking at things objectively. When there are supporting ideas that confirm the person’s beliefs or biases, that person feels good about it, and for them, that’s all that matters, thus becoming imprisoned by their own prejudices.
Confirmation bias, anxiety, and self-deception
Confirmation bias is not a good mindset for individuals with low esteem. These people are convinced they are not good enough and think others see them the same way. As a result, they might misinterpret other people’s actions, regardless if the act was neutral or unintentional because that is what the low-esteemed person has set in their mind, to begin with.
Self-deception, on the other hand, is similar to denial. The person tells themself with false optimism or false hopes to get away with something. For instance, a person who tells themself that they will stop smoking tomorrow so they can have one last today. Or someone saying they are not drunk and can still drive even if they are already feeling tipsy.
Self-deception is also done by those who want to stay positive amid the crisis, like battling sickness or dealing with a toxic person in a relationship to toughen themself up. Self-deception may give the person this numbness from the harsh reality of the situation. Or according to some studies, believing the positive despite the negative truth help reduce stress levels, which is helpful for the immune system and medications to work. Hence, this defense mechanism can be both beneficial and worrisome.
In summary, people may believe what they want. Naturally, we hold on to our own principles and beliefs and seek information to back them up. This becomes our compass when we make choices or do things in life. However, when we try to seek the truth, we can look for evidence that is counterintuitive to widen our perspective.
How to minimize confirmation bias
It is only fitting to minimize our confirmation biases to seek the truth and become more objective about ourselves, others, and the world around us. Our opinions are not always correct and absolute; instead, they are hypotheses— a product of intelligent thinking. Hypotheses, therefore, can either be proved or disproved. However, the outcome, the best thing to develop rather than constantly seeking to be right, is to be a lifelong and humble learner, not be egoistic. Expanding your horizons, having different perspectives, and viewing things objectively shape an intelligent and confident person. Confirmation biases limit the person from progressing intellectually.
Minimizing confirmation bias is also crucial for investigations. For example, when the police gather information from different witnesses and sources independently, these sources are instructed not to disclose their testimonies to others to avoid influencing one another and clouding the truth.
Abraham Lincoln set an excellent example of how he minimizes his biases. When making decisions, he encourages extensive debate and discussions. He keeps records of his rivals’ ideologies as well.