Why is it so difficult to make people change their minds?

Whether or not we like to admit it, each and every one of us is liable to exhibit confirmation bias. That is, we are more likely to seek people and information that appear to agree with our own beliefs.

In part, this explains why debates can be so stressful and often unrewarding: individuals are usually more inclined to stick to their own ideas, sometimes even when faced with solid evidence against them.

A team of researchers from City University and University College London — both in the United Kingdom — and Virginia Tech Carilion in Ronake, and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, IL, questioned what, exactly, happens in the brain that makes people unlikely to change their opinions.

In their study paper — which now features in Nature Neuroscience — the investigators explain that, as previous research shows, “[p]eople are more influenced when others express judgments with high confidence than low confidence.”

The researchers illustrate this point with a couple of hypothetical examples: “All else being equal, if an eye witness is confident she observed Jim stabbing George, the jury would treat such testimony as strong evidence that Jim is guilty and would be more likely to convict Jim than if the eye witness was unsure it was Jim they observed. If a doctor is confident in her diagnosis, the patient is more likely to follow the recommended treatment.”

However, they go on to add, in many cases, people refuse to believe the ideas put forth by others, regardless of who they are and how strong — and evidence-based — they are.

“For instance,” the researchers note, “over the last decade climate scientists have expressed greater confidence that climate change is man-made. Yet, the percentage of the population that believes this notion to be true has dropped over the same period of time.”

Confirmation bias at work

Article URL : https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327341.php#1

%d bloggers like this: