Ever wonder why some people don’t believe the truth or facts, even when the evidence supporting it is overwhelming? It’s like what they believe is more important than the truth. Take those that don’t believe vaccinations work, or might even be more harmful than the disease itself, and this in the midst of the COVID pandemic. Or how about suddenly believing that elections are rigged, even when for years they knew elections were run fairly and accurately. So, why is it that people’s beliefs outweigh reality? Is there a scientific or psychological answer?
Tonight, the Perpetual Notion Machine welcomes UW-Madison psychologist Markus Brauer to the program. In a conversation with PNM’s Dennis Shaffer, Markus explains confirmation bias, or the tendency people have to embrace information that support their beliefs and reject information that contradicts their beliefs. Confirmation bias seems like a contradiction in itself, since all human beings should have the capacity to think, reason, and process information. But being human is partly why confirmation bias occurs, which has both positive and negative effects.
Also, one good reason that creates confirmation bias has to do with Markus’ field of research – group dynamics and inter-group processes. As social animals, humans want to be in groups where we are welcomed and accepted, and give us self-esteem. Because of this need, we may fall victim to the group’s false beliefs.
For more information on confirmation bias, check out this Britannica webpage and this webpage from Simply Psychology.
And here’s a really good article from the New Yorker on Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds, which I hope it’s OK to post.
Feature Image courtesy: Wonderlane via Flickr
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