Confirmation bias.

dilbert-confirmation-bias

“The tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions”

above definition from science daily

Confirmation bias is a trick the brain not only plays in the scientific world, but also in our every day lives and is arguably a significant factor in the close-mindedness of the entire population. It aids in the perpetuation of stereotypes, hinders a person’s ability to gain self-confidence and recover from mental illness.

Wishful thinking, limited capacity for thought, and other explanations for the phenomenon help open our eyes to the general restrictions of human intellect. It is also a window into the selfishness that underlies all human interaction, which isn’t inherently a bad thing, despite the bad connotations held by the word ‘selfish’. I suppose a better word would be ‘self-preserving‘; whatever your idea of self-preservation may be.

Generally speaking, self-preservation refers to the behaviour that aids in the protection of an organism. This behaviour, in my experience, is highly dependent on a person’s comfort zone. This can be very problematic in settings where a person is self-destructive and/or emotionally unstable.

Here is an example:

John Doe, a functioning alcoholic, is convinced that people only contact him and want him around when they need something.

This perspective, although false and very unhealthy, is comfortable for him. It allows him to take on the role of victim and validates his binge drinking.

One sunny morning, John’s daughter is about to walk to work (which she does nearly every day) and says goodbye to her mother. She walks outside, knowing her father is out back, and let’s him know she is leaving. She says goodbye, waves, and is on her way.

John walks to the front yard and says he will give her a ride, so she climbs into the truck. Having drank a lot the night before, he feels uneasy and says to her, “I really shouldn’t even be driving.” This confuses his daughter. “Why did you offer to give me a ride then?” He looks at her, apparently shocked, and exclaims, “Well you made it so obvious you wanted me to give you a ride!”

That is one of the more extreme cases/situations, but we all do it in one way or another. Not only is it horribly damaging to relationships but it can also cause you to miss out on so much. Even in discussions we seek to validate our already well established opinions.

This is just a reminder to keep an open mind. One thing I always make sure to do when forming an opinion on something, is gain information from multiple sides of the argument; be aware of each point and perspective. You never have to completely agree with one side. It’s so easy to take the defensive, especially when speaking about something you’re passionate about, but don’t let this be your glass ceiling. Always aim higher.

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~ by Moonstruck on November 17, 2014.

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