The Hidden Influence: Navigating (Confirmation) Bias

June 7, 2023by Alex Willard0

In our everyday lives, we make many decisions, big and small. They typically range from trivial choices like what to have for breakfast to more significant choices like career moves or investments you make. But sometimes we don’t realize that bias can affect how we make those choices. Bias is a natural part of how our minds work and it can influence our thoughts, perceptions, and decisions. Understanding bias is important if we want to make informed decisions that match our goals and values.

Bias can affect us consciously and unconsciously, and it can make us see information in a one-sided way. It might come from our own experiences or the way we’ve been taught to think. Bias can even happen when our brains take shortcuts to simplify complex decision-making tasks.

In the next few posts, I’ll talk about different biases in finance that can impact the decisions we make.

Confirmation Bias: What is it and how it impacts

Have you ever noticed that people tend to pay attention only to information that supports what they already believe? That’s confirmation bias, and it can have a big impact on our financial decisions.

When we want to make good financial choices, confirmation bias can be a problem. But if we understand and address this bias, we can make better decisions and avoid mistakes.

Confirmation bias means we tend to look for, interpret, and remember information that agrees with what we already think. We ignore or downplay evidence that doesn’t match our beliefs. This bias can subtly affect our choices, especially financial choices. Instead of considering different perspectives, we stick to what we already believe.

For example, let’s say an investor strongly believes a certain company will grow in the long term. They’ll actively look for positive news and opinions that support their belief. At the same time, they might ignore negative news or warnings about potential risks. This makes the investor more confident in their initial belief and less likely to consider other viewpoints. This bias can stop investors from reviewing their decisions, diversifying their investments, or adapting to changes in the market. It’s important for investors to recognize confirmation bias and stay open-minded. They should seek different perspectives, do thorough research, and question their own assumptions to make better choices.

To reduce the impact of confirmation bias, there are a few strategies to try:

1. Conduct thorough research: Don’t rely only on information that agrees with your beliefs. Look at different sources, consider different opinions, and analyze information objectively.

2. Embrace a growth mindset: Be open to learning and changing your mind based on new evidence or changes in the market.

3. Encourage critical thinking: Have someone play the role of a devil’s advocate in your decision-making process. This person challenges your assumptions, asks questions, and presents counterarguments. It helps you see things from different angles and make more objective choices.

4. Keep a record of your decisions: Write down your financial decisions and why you made them. This helps you see if your predictions were right, understand how confirmation bias affected your choices, and make improvements for the future.

5. Seek different perspectives: Talk to financial professionals, advisors, or peers who have different viewpoints. Have open discussions and consider alternative strategies. This helps challenge your assumptions and make better decisions.

Being aware of bias is the first step in reducing its impact on our decision-making. By recognizing our biases and seeking diverse perspectives and information, we can make more informed choices. It’s important to think critically, question our assumptions, and keep an open mind. This helps balance the influence of bias and leads to better outcomes.

Remember, recognizing bias is not a flaw but an opportunity to grow and make better decisions.


Alex Willard

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