June 24, 2021

Confirmation Bias: What Is It? How It Affects Organizations?

Sam Caucci

This might be the first time you’ve heard of the term “confirmation bias” but you would be surprised to know that almost everyone in a decision-making role experiences this type of cognitive bias. From the receptionist at your building, all the way up to management and the CEO, cognitive biases affect the way everyone makes decisions and acts. Confirmation bias is one of the most common types of biases that we experience.

What is confirmation bias?

Confirmation bias is the habit of looking for, favoring or using information which aligns with your own pre-existing views on any given topic.

You might know it by other phrases or names, such as “cherry-picking”, “seeing what you want to see”, “my-side bias” or it can be expressed as doing everything it takes to be “right” during an argument.

How is confirmation bias harmful?

In our day-to-day lives, confirmation bias prevents us from looking at situations from an objective point of view. It can lead us into making poor decisions and ultimately make us less likely to engage with information that challenges us. It can make us reactive rather than constructive when we receive information that challenges us, causing us to reject it and keeping us firmly rooted in our beliefs in a perverse way.

What does confirmation bias look like in the workplace?

Confirmation bias negatively impacts our decision making process. But what can this look like in the workplace? A good example might be a situation where you are trying to launch a new product for your business, something you think is “the next big thing”, but you want to know whether or not the new product has any demand in the marketplace. So you ask your team to conduct some market research in order to figure it out.

Well, the thing is, during the market research your team already has a preconceived notion of what you want the data to say, so they might unconsciously choose questions and methods that give their boss the answers that he is looking for. This happens a lot more than you think, and this is why so many product launches fail. Businesses don’t let their data do the talking, and simply use the research to confirm their own bias about their genius inventions.

Now, this outcome might not seem so nefarious, but confirmation bias can have more deeply-rooted, and sinister effects if not kept in check for long enough. It can have effects on your hiring process where the recruiter only looks for, and hires, individuals who fit the status quo which can result in less diversity within the workplace.

Research has shown that companies say that they are looking for specific skills when in reality they are looking for certain ‘experience’ on resumes, and because of this they only end up hiring people who look or act like themselves. This hinders companies from making proper hiring decisions during the interview process.

Businesses rely on making critical decisions every single day. These decisions either ensure their success or hinder it. If businesses are being negatively influenced by confirmation bias, then not only are they in jeopardy, but so is everyone they are involved with, even if the bias is unconscious.

How to overcome confirmation bias.

There are many ways you can help eliminate confirmation bias at your workplace.

Awareness

The first step to overcoming unconscious confirmation biases is to educate yourself about it. Once you become aware of it, it will be easier to identify and avoid. You can help your team overcome confirmation bias by making sure they receive comprehensive training.

Standardization

In order to get rid of confirmation bias throughout your hiring process is to standardize your hiring process. Making sure each candidate goes through the same steps to get hired ensures your process is much more bias-proof. You can do this by using a platform like 1Huddle.

1Huddle is a gamification tool that can be used by companies during their interview process to ‘evaluate’ and ‘assess’ candidates. All potential new hires are able to play some simple, yet fun, games about the brand and job roles to learn if the opportunity is a good fit, and companies can see their performance to understand if the candidate is someone they would like to pursue. This approach is a much more behaviour-based, unbiased approach to candidate assessments than your traditional ‘IQ style’ tests which flood the market and are often biased against vulnerable candidates.

Falsification bias

Falsification bias is the opposite of confirmation bias. It means you actively look for evidence which disproves your point of view rather than confirms it, and using this bias is a good way to counter confirmation bias.

Different perspectives

It’s a good idea to get out of your echo chamber and speak to someone that you know sees things from a different perspective than you. Ask them what their opinion is on the situation, be open-minded about what they have to say and try to explore their ideas. You can also get someone you trust to help you explore your own thoughts and beliefs in a space without judgment to help you view matters and situations in an objective way.

Conquer confirmation bias with 1Huddle

Confirmation bias and other unconscious biases can be difficult to address and overcome in our personal and professional lives. Admitting we’re wrong takes a lot of strength, and we tend to only look for evidence which proves our point. But by using the strategies mentioned above, as well as implementing helpful employee training software like 1Huddle, you can help manage confirmation bias by asking the tough questions needed for your organization to prosper.

Do you want to learn more about how 1Huddle can help you level up your own workforce? Start your free trial of 1Huddle today.

Sam Caucci, Founder & CEO at 1Huddle

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