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Confirmation bias

JessJJessJ Member Posts: 8 Listener
I have suffered with anxiety for as long as I can remember. For me, the problem is social anxiety and the feeling of being judged negatively in a social situation. Recently through a psychology course I've been studying I learnt about a concept called confirmation bias which basically means humans have pre-existing ideas or assumptions and they select evidence to suit that idea or assumption simply as a way of re-enforcing that idea/assumption. For example if you feel people are always judging you negatively that is what you will always look for and overlook the occasions when someone complimented you. I've realised this is one of the biggest obstacles with suffering anxiety because we are simply hardwired this way, and overcoming anxiety means undoing all this thinking and being objective of all facts. 

Replies

  • leeCalleeCal Member Posts: 3,711 Disability Gamechanger
    The halo effect and cocktail party effect are similar phenomena also, very interesting I agree. 🙂
  • chiariedschiarieds Community Co-Production Group Posts: 9,222 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @JessJ - & welcome to this friendly & supportive community. Psychology is fascinating in it's own right, but, when you find it can also hopefully help yourself, that's even better.
    I also couldn't agree more that objectivity is definitely always needed with factual information.
    It looks like you'll fit right in here; great thinking, but also if we can support you in any way, or you support us! :)
  • lisathomas50lisathomas50 Posts: 4,363 Disability Gamechanger
    I am hopeing to study physiology this year with open University  again I did my first year years ago but didn't complete my 3 years so starting again  
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,644 Disability Gamechanger
    Ah yes. Conformation bias. The process by which claimants find forums which support their belief that everyone at the DWP is evil.  :)
  • lisathomas50lisathomas50 Posts: 4,363 Disability Gamechanger
    Not just DWP it's anyone who doesn't agree with a person who thinks like this
  • OverlyAnxiousOverlyAnxious Member Posts: 1,446 Disability Gamechanger
    Do you have any ideas of how to remove that confirmation bias?  I've known about it for years but can't seem to alter it at all.

    It's one of the biggest things my OCD feeds upon...if something doesn't go too badly I just feel a bit of relief afterwards, but no less anxiety at the next attempt.  Yet as soon as something goes badly that reinforces the original fear and makes the next attempt more difficult!  So nothing ever seems to get easier, only the same or worse!
  • leeCalleeCal Member Posts: 3,711 Disability Gamechanger
    @OverlyAnxious, you can try not prejudging situations before they happen but after many years of negative bias it won’t be easy. 
     A positive step would be to use positive confirmation bias whereby you expect the best of a situation before you experience it and then afterwards dwell on any and all positive aspects of the experience you can possibly glean from it. 

    It will take practise but both if the above above can be used in tandem and should lead to a better outcome than you are currently experiencing. The above suggestions are my personal and unprofessional opinions on the subject.
  • NotReallyNotReally Member Posts: 47 Courageous
    JessJ said:
     [...] concept called confirmation bias which basically means humans have pre-existing ideas or assumptions and they select evidence to suit that idea or assumption simply as a way of re-enforcing that idea/assumption. [...]
    Essentially: we (tend to) see what we know.  Seeing things we don't know requires higher cognative effort - which requires higher calorie expenditure - something that millions of years of evolutionary force has minimised[1].

    [1] - This is my hypothesis at least - I r not scientist - barely educated in fact.

    Do you have any ideas of how to remove that confirmation bias?  I've known about it for years but can't seem to alter it at all.
    Something that I have found that is generally helpful for this kind of stuff is mindfulness; I don't have OCD (at least I'm pretty confident I don't) but some of my autistic traits express very much like OCD, especially when seen by other people.  Being able to use mindfulness to mentally take a step back from a situation for a few moments and reassess it and my reaction to it is immensely helpful.  The real challenge for me is to remember to do this - thanks ADHD!
  • JessJJessJ Member Posts: 8 Listener
    It's incredibly difficult to undo this type of thinking because every human does it and most of the time we aren't even aware that we do it. Like other people have said it makes life easier for our brains to think this way. We like to think that all swans are white because that makes life easier but we know that black swans exist. What we should do is set ourselves a hypothesis and then endeavour to *disprove* it and stay objective of all the evidence and not discount the evidence we don't like that doesn't fit with our biased anxious thoughts.
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