All About Confirmation Bias and How It Prevents Us From Seeking Alternative Explanations for Our Problems

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What is Confirmation Bias?

Confirmation bias describes a mental process by which we have a tendency or a ‘leaning’ towards seeking out evidence that fits with our existing beliefs.

A further consequence of confirmation bias is that we also tend to ignore, or simply not ‘process’ evidence that contradicts what we believe.

In other words, we have a bias towards evidence that confirms our existing belief systems (whether they are useful to us or not).

Furthermore, confirmation bias also tends to result in people:

  • Discounting or ignoring information that does not fit with pre-conceptions.
  • Exaggerating elements of an experience that fits with current beliefs.
  • Explaining-away elements that don’t fit with beliefs as ‘exceptions to the rule’.

It is a normal mental process that, in general, does not lead to problems.

However, when it keeps us trapped in unhelpful belief systems, it can prevent us from overcoming life’s difficulties.


Examples and Effects of Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias does not, of course, always lead to life problems but it is a general principle related to ANY belief system:

Academic Bias

Academic researchers are often accused of ignoring evidence which clearly negates the theories that they propose.

This problem is normally addressed through the process known as ‘peer review’ in which academics from different backgrounds review the research to look for any of these biases within the results, methodologies or conclusions.

Selecting Friends and Aquaintances

Throughout the course of our lives, we have a tendency to seek-out and befriend people who hold the same values and beliefs as ourselves and in this way are able to gain external confirmation that our beliefs are ‘valid’.

We do not, in general terms, tend to develop relationships with other people who hold fundamentally different beliefs to our own.

Consequently, religious people tend to associate with other religious people, right-wing extremists tend to associate with other right-wing extremists, and so on.

Having to defend your beliefs on a day-to-day basis because you mix with such diverse groups, is hard work and is often avoided through confirmation bias mechanisms.

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If you’d like to find out more about confirmation bias or recovering from any of your mental health problems then why not arrange a free initial consultation with us.

During this consultation we will discuss your particular issues and the different types of mental health counselling we offer (including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT) without you having to commit to any counselling going forward.

The consultation lasts around 50 minutes and is a great opportunity to meet with either Paul or Joan and decide if you would like to proceed with any support.


Applied Psychology Solutions

If you’d like to learn how to overcome your mental health problems but dislike the idea of having “therapy”, then why not learn how to change the way you make sense of your experiences and the World around you with the CORE Programme.

If you believe that your problems are the result of what has happened to you and not because there is something wrong with you, then this is the solution you’ve been looking for.

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We offer Therapy and Counselling for Mental Health Problems for people living in:

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You can also access our services around the World using online therapy with Paul.