Confirmation Bias During the January 6 Hearings

Affirmation Bias Throughout the January 6 Hearings


Most of us prefer to consider that our views are appropriate and reverse views are incorrect. In fact, typically our views are certainly legitimate, however particularly in political contexts, nonpartisan fact-checks and discoveries of disinformation campaigns reveal extra inaccuracies in our views than we’d prefer to admit.

Believing that we’re proper is not only soothing to our egos (or protecting of egos which might be very fragile). It’s additionally about consistency and what looks as if widespread sense. Why would you consider one thing if it had been unfaithful, proper? How simple the world could be to navigate if the whole lot you believed was the way it actually is. This protected feeling is a part of what’s referred to as naïve realism (Gilovich and Ross, 2015).


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It’s inconsistent, and so cognitively uncomfortable, to consider in, march for, vote for, or donate cash to a trigger that’s undermined or contradicted by factual data. It could even be uncomfortable if what you consider or assist carries detrimental penalties for harmless folks, particularly once they embody you and your personal household. The discomfort as you start to sense your mistaken beliefs or their detrimental penalties falls underneath cognitive dissonance.

How Do We Take care of Dissonance?

Social psychologists have documented quite a few methods to scale back cognitive dissonance (Stalder, 2020). Logically, you may change your view transferring ahead or take motion to handle your mistake (Stone and Fernandez, 2008). For instance, many who had been towards masks or vaccines modified their minds after they or a liked one caught COVID-19, together with former governor Chris Christie (Miller, 2020).

Voting towards gun-control laws doesn’t jibe properly with the rise in mass shootings, main at the least one Republican consultant within the Home to take a “new stance” at the price of his profession (Richards, 2022)—not that there’s just one approach to cut back mass shootings. Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged that he “made errors” when he ultimately resigned final 12 months (Villeneuve, 2021).

Sadly, it’s extra widespread to scale back dissonance by taking much less rational approaches. If information companies, scientists, or courtroom rulings present new data that invalidates or questions your view, you may assault these messengers as “liars” or “partisans” or name them different names; you may rationalize different causes to doubt the brand new data; you may misconstrue or misremember the brand new data as much less damning than it truly is (even calling a mass taking pictures a false-flag operation); you may keep away from publicity to the brand new data by not opening that newspaper or tuning to that channel; or you may retreat to your echo chamber in different information sources or social media websites that assist your view. These steps make it simpler to consider you’re nonetheless proper, though they may also be about saving face regardless of realizing you’re incorrect.

There are a lot of biases behind this pure tendency of considering that you just or your group is true and performing to quiet any doubts. Moreover naive realism, there’s self-serving bias, group-serving bias, group-centrism, groupthink, bias blind spot, perception perseverance, political tribalism, and particularly affirmation bias.


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A New Stage of Affirmation Bias?

Affirmation bias might be aware or less-than-conscious. You keep away from folks or data that contradicts your view whilst you search out or embrace something that helps your view (Gilovich and Ross, 2015). It’s as simple as a button press in your distant management. It’s comprehensible, although irrational.

However when those that management the cable-show circulation of knowledge promote supportive data to their loyal viewers and exclude any contradictory data, nevertheless newsworthy, it goes past your resolution. The choice is being made for you for causes past your personal.

The current resolution by Fox Information to not air the January 6 hearings is arguably an apparent case of this larger degree of affirmation bias. Though some Fox Information viewers could definitely respect not being uncovered to the hearings in any respect, they can not totally notice what they’re lacking, and a few viewers will not be averse to watching elements of the hearings.

Fox Information went even additional to incorporate counterprogramming extra in step with their earlier narratives about January 6, at the least some elements of that are questionable if not false (McCarthy, 2022). Sure, after all, the Fox Information viewer can swap channels throughout a business to see what’s happing on the hearings—however one Fox Information host even went commercial-free throughout that first night time, a choice probably meant to maintain viewers from switching (Again, 2022).

These methods can have a number of functions or results, probably together with some face-saving for Fox Information hosts and management and serving to to maintain sure politicians in workplace. It’s true that cable exhibits can’t cowl each story, and any present’s common selections on what to air could replicate some type of a range bias. I additionally acknowledge that not all “new data” is equally legitimate, so some selections to not air are clearly justified. However the January 6 hearings appear too massive in scope and significance and, even when not one hundred pc correct, too evidence-based to be in comparison with the comparatively much less essential every day protection selections.

In Sum

In the end, after all, you may select what channel to observe. And the idea to your views higher than I or different authors. At a minimal, in the event you don’t already do that, I encourage everybody to decelerate their considering when new data surfaces (Gilovich and Ross, 2015; Stalder, 2018). Attempt to be open to a number of sources. Watch a half-hour or a couple of minutes of one other supply. What’s the actual hurt moreover the time you’d spend? You don’t have to vary your views simply since you’re tuning in, and you’ll go away everytime you need if it turns into emotionally tough.

However in the event you do barely change a view upon studying new data, particularly if it comes from a number of sources, there’s nothing weak or hypocritical about that—the data is, in any case, “new.” You didn’t have it earlier than, and now you do.


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