Confirmation Bias

cognitive-bias_confirmation-bias

 

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“People are always clinging to what they want to hear, discarding the evidence that doesn’t fit with their beliefs, giving greater weight to evidence that does.”
Paula Stokes

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As people we all share a need to be right in order to make sense of the world and to feel in control of our lives. As we gather our beliefs we also gather evidence to support them. That way, whenever we need to defend our position on a particular issue, we can dig deep into our bag of evidence and come up with the proof we need. As Stuart Chase said “For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.”

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In reality, there is very little in life which is absolutely right or wrong. Mostly we just adopt a belief and stick with it. For example, look at the way we view other people. In my experience we fall into two camps. One believes that people are basically decent and given a chance will do you a good turn. The other believe that people are selfish, only out for themselves and given a chance will rip you off. Which is true? Simply the one you choose is true.

 

You may not of consciously have chosen any of the beliefs you now hold. You probably took most of them on board before you were old enough to understand the concept . But the truth is you can choose to change any of them or add to them right now and from here on.

Once we have formed a view, we embrace information that confirms that view while ignoring, or rejecting, information that casts doubt on it. Confirmation bias suggests that we do not perceive circumstances objectively.We pick out those bits of data that make us feel good because they confirm our prejudices. Thus, we may become prisoners of our assumptions.

Start to notice the beliefs of those around you. Listen as people reveal their beliefs and then provide the evidence to support them. Notice which beliefs are limiting and pessimistic and those which are optimistic and expansive. I am continuing to learn first hand how tremendously empowering, or limiting my beliefs can be.

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The important lesson here is set your hypothesis and look for instances to prove that you are wrong. This is perhaps a true definition of self confidence: the ability to look at the world without the need to look for instances that pleases your ego.

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“Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives.
Anothony Robbins


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