"The human understanding, when any proposition is laid down...forces everything else to add fresh support and confirmation."
-Francis Bacon Novum Organum
are in a constant search to find information which confirms our presupposition
s. We will create things in our own minds merely to justify our own biases. Peter Wason
did a study¹ on British
university students in which he gave them the three-number sequence
2-4-6 and asked them to determine the rule that was employed in the creation of the series. While the rule was simple-any three ascending numbers-students first replied with examples of the same rule in action. The examples they gave, though often incorrect
, were never doubted. This goes to show that we will do much in the pursuit of the preservation of our own ideas. Other instances of this can be found in business.
Would a business manager for example be more willing to track the success of someone he hired or someone he turned away? They seek confirmation of their own abilities. Wason even went as far as to say: "Ordinary people evade facts, become inconsistent, or systematically defend themselves against the threat of new information relevant to the issue.
" A most recent example of confirmation bias is the absolute surety with which supporters of George W. Bush
and Al Gore
respectively held as to the outcome of the election
. We will seek unflinchingly for answers that confirm our biases, even if they are wrong.
¹Klayman & Ha, 1987; Skov & Sherman, 1986