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Cognitive biases are all related to confirmation bias

Related: Cognition


Psychologists have posited hundreds of cognitive biases over the years. A new paper argues that they all boil down to one of a handful of fundamental beliefs coupled with confirmation bias.

The article suggests that:

  1. Biases in Information Processing: The text begins by stating that psychological research has revealed that people tend to process information in a biased manner. This means that when we perceive and make judgments about the world around us, our thinking is not always objective or impartial.

  2. Multiple Identified Biases: It mentions that researchers have identified and demonstrated various biases in how people process information. Examples of these biases include the "bias blind spot," "hostile media bias," "egocentric/ethnocentric bias," and the "outcome bias." These biases refer to situations where people's judgments or beliefs are skewed in certain directions.

  3. Lack of Integration: The passage highlights a challenge in the field of psychology, which is that these biases have typically been studied separately in different research areas. This has made it difficult to recognize any common principles or connections between these biases.

  4. Fundamental Prior Belief: The central argument here is that many of these biases can be traced back to a fundamental prior belief that individuals hold. This belief shapes how they process information. This belief tends to align with information that supports it, leading to biased processing.

  5. Different Manifestations of the Same Belief: The text suggests that what varies between these different biases is the specific belief that guides the information processing. Essentially, different biases stem from the same underlying belief but result in different outcomes or judgments due to the information processed.

  6. Proposing a Unified Model: The passage proposes a model that can explain several different biases in a more straightforward and unified manner. This is seen as a more parsimonious (economical) approach compared to existing theories that treat these biases as separate entities.

  7. Generating New Hypotheses: By taking this integrated perspective, the authors suggest that it leads to new hypotheses and predictions about human behavior and decision-making processes.

In summary, the text discusses the existence of biases in human information processing and proposes that many of these biases share a common root in a fundamental prior belief. This perspective offers a more streamlined explanation for these biases and opens up new avenues for research.

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References

Toward Parsimony in Bias Research: A Proposed Common Framework of Belief-Consistent Information Processing for a Set of Biases - Aileen Oeberst, Roland Imhoff, 2023

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