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"Confirmation biases have previously only been established in the domains of higher cognition or subjective preferences," for example in individuals' preferences for one consumer product or another, says Tobias Donner from University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), Germany. "It was rather striking for us to see that people displayed clear signs of confirmation bias when judging on sensory input that we expected to be subjectively neutral to them."
The findings by a team of researchers from UKE and Tel Aviv University, Israel, suggest that confirmation bias is linked to selective attention, a process in which people react to certain bits of information or stimuli and not others when several are presented at the same time. They also set the stage for studies to unravel the underlying brain mechanisms, the researchers say.
Confirmation - Bias - People - Decision - Information
Although confirmation bias is well known, it hadn't been clear what drives it. Is it that people, after making a decision, become less sensitive to new information? Or do they actually filter new information so as to reduce conflict with the decision they've already made?
To explore this question, the researchers, including first authors Bharath Talluri and Anne Urai, both from UKE, asked study participants to look at two successive movies featuring a cloud of small white dots on a white computer screen. Their task was to report the direction the coherently moving dots, which was challenging because these dots were embedded in many more dots that moved about randomly. After the first movie, participants were asked to choose between two categorical options: whether the coherent motion pointed clockwise or counterclockwise from a reference line drawn next to the cloud of dots. After...
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