Confirmation BiasOpen Access

Confirmation Bias

We look for information that supports our existing beliefs and ignore what doesn’t

Mental shortcuts, overconfidence and a desire to appear consistent lead us to maintain flawed, one-sided viewpoints that cause poor decisions.

McClure, Li, Tomlin, Cypert, Montague & Montague (2004). Neural correlates of behavioral preference for culturally familiar drinks. Neuron, 44(2), 379-387.

The study

Setup

67 people were asked if they prefer Coke, Pepsi or have no preference, split into taster groups and given 3 rounds of both in either unlabeled or labeled cups.

Results

Taste preferences were split evenly when the drinks were unlabeled, but when labeled, they exhibited a strong taste preference for Coke, underlining the bias of brand attachment in consumer choice.

Study graph

Key Takeaways

Test your assumptions. Decision-Makers often start new projects under judgements that are both unproven and erroneous. Bring key Decision-Makers together to list assumptions honestly. Use these as a basis for testing the validity of the idea in its simplest form. This avoids unnecessary costs further down the line. See the Lean Startup Model for further details.

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Consider conflicting alternatives to strengthen your strategic decision-making process. Seek impartial feedback from trusted others who are less emotionally invested in the chosen route than you.

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Repeatedly point out what you do well, especially with attention to small details around customer care or craftsmanship in process. Consumers will begin to notice and start to look for further evidence to support these newly-held beliefs.

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Confirmation Bias

Confirmation Bias

We look for information that supports our existing beliefs and ignore what doesn’t

Mental shortcuts, overconfidence and a desire to appear consistent lead us to maintain flawed, one-sided viewpoints that cause poor decisions.

The study

Setup

67 people were asked if they prefer Coke, Pepsi or have no preference, split into taster groups and given 3 rounds of both in either unlabeled or labeled cups.

Results

Taste preferences were split evenly when the drinks were unlabeled, but when labeled, they exhibited a strong taste preference for Coke, underlining the bias of brand attachment in consumer choice.

study graph
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Open access, foundational Nuggets

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Scarcity

We value things more when they’re in limited supply

Social Proof

Social Proof

We copy the behaviors of others, especially in unfamiliar situations

Prospect Theory

Prospect Theory

A loss hurts more than an equal gain feels good

Reciprocity

Reciprocity

We’re hardwired to return kindness received

Framing

Framing

We make very different decisions based on how a fact is presented

Loss Aversion

Loss Aversion

We feel more negative when losing something than positive when we gain it

Default Effect

Default Effect

We tend to accept the option pre-chosen for us

Anchoring

Anchoring

What we see first affects our judgement of everything thereafter

Fast & Slow Thinking

Fast & Slow Thinking

We make knee-jerk spontaneous decisions that can cause regretful damage

Salience

Salience

Our choices are determined by the information we're shown

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We don’t like uncertainty and generally stick to what we know

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Risk Aversion
We don’t like uncertainty and generally stick to what we know
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