Myside/Confirmation Bias

Whose side are you on anyway… mine or theirs? Folks who agree with me are tops!  Your Oxytocin’s overflowin!!!! That’s a funny thing to say!  Our brain’s Oxytocin level helps explain why, in terms of standing, we lift up folks in out in-group and casually consider outsiders as unimportant drops. You mean seeking agreeability makes me suspicious and distance opposing folks? Yes Ma’am!  In-group bias overestimates abilities and values of our groupies at the expense of others whose views we deem to be a hoax.

We tend to develop an irrational loyalty to, not only in-groups, but beliefs.  We diligently seek evidence supporting those opinions and discredit differing information with shrugging nonchalant beefs.  We’re twice as likely to pursue facts confirming closely held beliefs, as we are to weigh evidence that would challenge us.  This phenomenon, some call pigheadedness, is known as Myside or confirmation bias.

 Myside bias alters how we assemble, interpret, and remember ideas… like softener makes wrinkles go away. We don’t have to always seek positive confirmation either… we may say I’m wrong… and so are you… in every way… You got it! We seek knowledge that supports our beliefs no matter how strong and then embrace this material as gospel right or wrong. Can we control myside bias whether at work or play?  Yes, an effective strategy is to challenge our beliefs against good evidence that refutes what we say.  It’s hard to do. My brain finds familiar comforting.  Info that supports our certainties, rather than evidence that might disprove them is certainly soothing. Similarly, it’s easier to rationalize, than to embrace a rational impression. We reinterpret failures as “near-misses” so we can agree with ourselves. Like saying… “99 times out of 100 I would have been right if only someone asked the right question!” That’s it!

With myside bias, it’s a Funny Feeling to know, while stack piling agreeable info makes us feel more confident, it doesn’t insure our beliefs are more EXACT… Searching for facts resembling ours is a dangerous journey that greatly reduces choice diversity and information value… a path that keeps myside bias INTACT…

Copyright Alan P. Xenakis, MD

Myside/Confirmation Bias Doc X MD and Audra RN Funny Feelings©