How to Combat Confirmation Bias

Confirmation Bias is our subconscious tendency to favour information that confirms our pre-existing beliefs.

For example, ‘left-handers are more creative’.

In life, we often seek out people that share our views which helps to reaffirm our beliefs.

When accessing stories in the media, we interpret them in a way that supports our opinions.

And we all do it.

Without knowing.

So, is Confirmation Bias a help or hindrance?

The answer is both.

Confirmation Bias can be helpful when you are categorically convinced in a point of view. It can free yourself up to not doubt yourself and contribute to a state of wellbeing. In times of stress it may allow yourself to allocate reduced capacity only to that which you find unresolved.

Confirmation Bias may not be helpful when placing limiting beliefs upon people (including yourself). This may manifest in only ever looking at an issue ‘one way’. This may lead to conflict, unhappiness and limiting beliefs in life.

 What should we do about Confirmation Bias as progressive thinkers?

Remember there are two sides to every story.

Seek alternative views to your own.

Mix with a wider network of people.

Seek out friends, friends and colleagues that you are comfortable in challenging alternative points of view with respect and curiosity.

Sleep on an alternative opinion or observation shared with you and reflect on it again in the morning.

‘Leave your ego in the bottom drawer’ when discussing alternative views.

Accept disagreement as a possible outcome from courageous conversations.

Broaden information sources to widen your reach and influence on perspective.

Challenge your own beliefs privately.

And finally, a framework for you to consider adopting in combating Confirmation Bias – ‘The Six Thinking Hats’ by Edward De Bono. De Bono created a different coloured hat for us to metaphorically wear when thinking in different modes.

Blue is process – what is the goal and how can we get there?

Green is creativity – thinking outside the box.

White is facts – what information is available and what are the facts?

Yellow is benefits – identifying the benefits and upside to a perspective.

Red is feelings – how do you intuitively and instinctively feel about an issue?

Black is critical – assessing logical and realistic reasons to be cautious in holding a view. What is the downside?

Ask questions – lots of them.

And wear all the hats and rotate them regularly.

But most of all remember to be curious and kind. For regardless of your biases, people will remember how you treated them long after they’ve forgotten your opinion and returned to theirs.