Confirmation Bias causes us to seek out and then interpret information based on our preexisting beliefs. Let’s say there are two sides to an argument, Side A and Side B. I believe Side A and I'm against Side B. As a victim of Confirmation Bias, I will consequently reject any information supporting Side B because it’s against my preexisting beliefs, while openly accept information supporting Side A. Confirmation Bias affects how we search for, interpret, and remember information. And, this Bias is not limited to arguments.
Example: Imagine your friends tell you there is an overabundance of blue cars on the road. The next time you are driving home you notice a plethora of blue cars passing by. So, you feel your friend must be right.
However, it is only because the blue cars were brought to your attention that you are now noticing each one that comes into sight. You were seeing them before, just not consciously processing them. You are also forgetting to account for something else – how many other cars are out there with different colors. There are just as many, if not more, black or white cars on the road at any given moment.
Test it out: on your drive home from work today, see if you notice more blue cars driving on the road.
Here is Confirmation Bias explained in a minute:
Download our Cognitive Bias cheat sheet for your one-page guide to the eight Cognitive Biases that block innovation efforts.
Confirmation Bias During Innovation
Confirmation Bias can be deterred when generating new ideas by a Forced Connections exercise. The Forced Connections technique utilizes any object in the world as a possible solution to a given challenge. The object can range from sometthing like a rubber band to a semi-truck. All you have to do is list the object’s attributes, characteristics, associations—anything you can think of—and then come up with things the two apparently dis-similar objects have in common. It’s surprising how many solutions we can identify by forcing associations between unrelated objects. Here is an example of objects we often use as idea starters during an ideation session:
Confirmation Bias will often result in redundant exploration as our minds fail to look beyond what we wish to find. By forcing connections, we expand our analysis of the world around us and find solutions in unexpected areas.
Tyler Thompson is a Marketing and Research Analyst at Ideas To Go, an innovation agency that works with Fortune 500 companies in ideation and concept development to incorporate the voice of the consumer.