By Afsheen Ekhteyar;
Although we live in an advanced era, we are still in the dark, disconnected from reality. By following the accepted views and opinions, we fail to question the origins of our beliefs and opinions. Where does our information come from? Do we think our one-sided viewpoint is rational enough to be relied upon? All of us are prone to a perplexing condition called confirmation bias.
It is the tendency to process information in ways that support one’s pre-existing beliefs. Humans tend to find, favour, and use statistics that confirm their pre-existing beliefs about a topic. Cherry-picking, my-side prejudice, or absolutely insisting on doing whatever it takes to win a controversy are all terms used to describe it.
Biased decision-making is often accidental and leads to the omission of contradictory data. The confirmation bias is problematic for several reasons, but the most important one is that it leads to faulty decisions.
It reminds me of Wason’s Rule Discovery task from 1960. Cognitive psychologist Peter Cathcart Wason demonstrated that people have a predisposition to seek information that validates their previous opinions.
This form of bias makes it difficult to view things objectively. This psychological phenomenon known as Confirmation Bias can be seen in Pakistan’s current political situation. An ex-prime minister with international acclaim and widespread moral backing failed to convince the court of his position. The court’s ruling does not demonstrate objectivity when viewed through the prism of confirmation bias. Its long-lasting effects will be evident in the days to come.
Confirmation bias can affect not only our personal ideas but also our professional goals. At work, confirmation bias may be a major problem, especially when it comes to professional relationships. A manager or team leader will act or behave differently with an employee if they have strong feelings for them. There is a tendency for organizations to make decisions based on confirmation bias. Examples include hiring, promotions, and sustainability. Many people are afraid of transparency and vulnerability at work.
Nobody likes to admit they’re wrong, especially when they’re in charge of a team. Perhaps institutions aren’t leading by example when it comes to policy consistency. This erroneous conclusion is a result of gathering information about a victim under the influence of confirmation bias. Researchers have shown that your mind thinks the same way you speak. Half-filled glasses of water can be confused with half-empty ones. Even if the employee is only allowed to perform one task, they might be held responsible for all tasks.
All of this is dependent on an individual approach, which may become a collective approach if confirmation bias is used. I’m amazed by people who have a broad understanding of the world and who see what others want them to see.
A person in a position of authority can avoid confirmation bias by playing the role of devil’s advocate. Let’s set the scene and sniff out the players. The truth is not the truth as it is told by an authority figure. All of his subordinates will undoubtedly act as his boss’s spokespeople. In my opinion, organizers should provide victims with the option of speaking up, whether they are present or not.
Blind judgments may affect an individual for a short period of time, but they can harm an organization for decades. I pray that all organizers avoid confirmation bias.
(The writer, Afsheen Ekhteyar, is an Assistant Professor, Department of English, National University of Modern Languages, Karachi Campus, Pakistan).