What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.
— , Forbes (primary source unknown)
Confirmation bias happens when decision makers only pay attention to evidence that confirms their current beliefs rather than weighing all the evidence and making an unbiased decision. This bias is particularly challenging because it is possible for people to do in-depth analysis with reams of leading to conclusions that support the preferred outcome. By disregarding conflicting evidence, it can lead to false assumptions and bad decisions.
Confirmation bias is probably the single biggest problem in business because even the most sophisticated people get it wrong. People go out and they’re collecting the data, and they don’t realize they’re cooking the books.
— Dan Lovallo DL Dan Lovallo via and , Decisive
The best way to overcome confirmation bias is to follow the scientific method and actively seek disconfirming evidence that could falsify the hypothesis. Considering opposing beliefs, ideas, and values requires a conscious effort and an open mind. Changing someone’s mind can be difficult because they may feel mental discomfort when confronted with beliefs, ideas, or values that conflict with their own. The resulting disharmony is referred to as cognitive dissonance , and people may strive to reduce it with denial, avoidance, rationalizing, self-deception, etc. It can take a lot of effort to alter fundamental beliefs, ideas, or values with new information and rational arguments. It requires open-minded debate and a willingness to be proven wrong.