Positive confirmation bias in the acquisition of information

Theory and Decision 50 (1):59-99 (2001)
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An experiment is reported which tests for positive confirmation bias in a setting in which individuals choose what information to buy, prior to making a decision. The design – an adaptation of Wason's selection task – reveals the use that subjects make of information after buying it. Strong evidence of positive confirmation bias, in both information acquisition and information use, is found; and this bias is found to be robust to experience. It is suggested that the bias results from a pattern of reasoning which, although producing sub-optimal decisions, is internally coherent and which is self-reinforcing



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Author Profiles

Robert Sugden
University of East Anglia