Thursday, June 12, 2014

Counteracting the Confirmation Bias

The confirmation bias afflicts us all.  We look for and rely on information and evidence that confirms what we already believe, and we avoid or discount data that may contradict our pre-existing positions and beliefs.   This bias leads to many flawed decisions, because we are not looking in a balanced way at the evidence.  How can managers counteract this pernicious decision-making trap?  Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Before you begin to analyze a problem, write down your pre-existing beliefs.  Then, make two lists - one of the evidence supporting your initial position, and other of the data that disconfirms your initial views.   Make sure that you find at least three significant pieces of disconfirming evidence.   
  2. Role play someone with a different pre-existing position.  Build a short presentation intending to persuade others of the validity of that position.  In so doing, you are forcing yourself to collect data that disconfirms your initial view.
  3. Assign someone on your team to collect and present disconfirming evidence. 
  4. As people to work in pairs as they conduct research on an issue, with the pairs created so as to connect people with different initial viewpoints.
  5. Write down a few of the key assumptions that underlie your beliefs and positions.  Then design a simple test or experiment to try to validate each assumption. 


Jim Gill said...

Reraders might enjoy Cognitive Bias Parade: A daily illustrated review of Cognitive Bias

Michael Roberto said...

Great stuff. Thanks for sharing.