What happens when you hear evidence contrary to your deeply held opinion?

A) Ignore it?

B) Change your original opinion according to the new evidence?

C) Further strengthen your original opinion?

Read on to know the shocking answer.

 

 

It was Thomas Jefferson who said that an informed electorate is a prerequisite for democracy. Recent research, however, finds that being informed may not be as beneficial as we think. In 2010, political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler had two groups of people read articles about how Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the U.S. invasion. One group then read an article correcting that information: the 2004 Duelfer report, which confirmed that the country had no such weapons. Of conservatives who read only the first article, 34% believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the invasion. But of conservatives who read both, that number climbed to 64%. Contradictory information didn’t change their beliefs; it actually strengthened them.

And you yourself can experience this effect everytime you hear news against the political party you support or Salman Khan (if he happens to be your favourite movie star).

backfire effect selling to the soul

This is called the backfire effect. And it can be seen as the flipside of confirmation bias. Confirmation bias makes you seek out information that agrees with your preexisting beliefs. The backfire effect is what you do when information that doesn’t agree with those beliefs finds you. In both cases, your mind protects you from the pain of being wrong. As Thomas Gilovich wrote in his book How We Know What Isn’t So, “For desired conclusions…it is as if we ask ourselves, ‘Can I believe this?’, but for unpalatable conclusions we ask ‘Must I believe this?'” Learn more about your tendency for bias in the video here.

 

 

 

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