On a recent family weekend we sat down to watch the Insiders television show.
We are quite a politically diverse group ranging from left to right, from green to whatever the opposite of green is, from city to country, from conservative to progressive, so the conversation during this political television program was interesting.
The conservatives heard a bias towards the progressive, the greens felt a bias towards to opposites, the lefts and the rights heard a bias towards the other. It is clear that no television show could be left right, up down, old new all in one episode, so what is really going on here?
Well in one way they are right, there is a bias at play here, but it is theirs.
When we hear something we filter it. The things we hear that confirm our thinking are valued more highly and the things we hear that don’t confirm our thinking are discounted – this is known as a confirmation bias and it explains why two people can hear the same thing and assume different things.
The implications of the confirmation bias are wide and varied, people may misinterpret what you say, people may shut off to what you say and not hear it at all, or people may be positive to what you have to say without really understanding it.