What is confirmation bias?

It’s great when we see news or opinions that back up our own beliefs, isn’t it?

Posts or points of view that we agree with make us feel reassured and it’s always nice to know that other people think the same way.

But because we’re less likely to question something that we like the sound of, it’s easy to be taken in by fake news that falls in line with what we believe. Fake news can often spread quickly like this, preying on our emotions as we share and react to stories that we’d like to think are true.

Watch the clip below to find out how this confirmation bias can affect what we believe.

The three types of confirmation bias

Confirmation bias is how we all tend to prefer the information or news that confirms what we already believe, rather than challenging it. This can work in three ways:

  1. Research bias: This is when you search for evidence to back up your opinions by only going to sources that hold similar views. This leads to being really selective when researching and avoiding anything that might challenge you.
  2. Interpretation bias: If you think a certain way, you might take other people’s normal everyday actions as extremely negative – this happens when looking for reasons to disagree with something.
  3. Memory bias: If you don’t like someone, you probably won’t remember all the times when they were actually quite nice. This is the same for confirmation bias, making it easy to forget about past events in favour of believing things that make your own opinions seem more truthful than they are.

Get outside your comfort zone

When seeing a news story online or offline that sounds too good to be true, really try to investigate the evidence. Who’s posting or writing about it and why? Is it believable or just something that is designed to appeal to your point of view?

Emotions are a big part of this. Fake news usually aims to provoke a reaction in us, trying to get people to identify with it and share with others. But always remember to pause before you share and think about whether a story is telling you the facts or only the things that you want to hear.

How does fake news spread?
What are echo chambers?
A brief history of fake news
Fact or Fake?