December 30, 2019

How confirmation bias contributes to polarization

Confirmation bias in the utilization of others’ opinion strength

Humans tend to discount information that undermines past choices and judgments. This confirmation bias has significant impact on domains ranging from politics to science and education. Little is known about the mechanisms underlying this fundamental characteristic of belief formation. Here we report a mechanism underlying the confirmation bias. Specifically, we provide evidence for a failure to use the strength of others’ disconfirming opinions to alter confidence in judgments, but adequate use when opinions are confirmatory. This bias is related to reduced neural sensitivity to the strength of others’ opinions in the posterior medial prefrontal cortex when opinions are disconfirming. Our results demonstrate that existing judgments alter the neural representation of information strength, leaving the individual less likely to alter opinions in the face of disagreement.
The notion that the strength of disconfirming opinion is not necessarily proportionate to its impact on belief change is in accord with anecdotal and ‘real-world’ observations in domains ranging from science to politics. The underlying process is remarkably flexible, with the neural circuitry involved switching on a trial-bytrial basis from high sensitivity to relative neglect, contingent on whether the opinion is confirmatory or disconfirming. This process may leave the individual less likely to alter opinions in the face of disagreement.
Interesting article from Nature. So what? Is there any exercise to train the neural sensitivity of our posterior medial prefrontal cortex? If so, I would suggest these exercise to some guys.