Decision-making is arguably one of the most important aspects of a manager or business owner's job - playing a significant role in overall success and growth. Due to the time and effort decision-making takes, it's easy to miss the forest for the trees and lose the perspective needed to make well-informed decisions. One of the most common ways this occurs is confirmation bias.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to interpret new information to confirm existing beliefs or theories, which you can learn more about here. In decision-making, confirmation bias can and often does work against the best interest of the company. Keep reading to learn more about the dangers of confirmation bias and how to avoid them.
Confirmation bias, also known as cherry-picking, is a problem because it tends to lead to flawed-decision making. When confirmation bias is in play, people will collect or interpret information in a manner that provides them with the results they want to see. Doing so leads to decisions being made based on false or misleading information. Data is as valuable as one's ability to use and understand it. Below are a few tips on how to avoid confirmation bias.
In this case, it may be a good time to think like a statistician to minimize confirmation bias. When gathering information of any kind, it's important to remember how you ask your question and measure your results can affect how the data is interpreted.
For example, if you were conducting a survey, the kind of data you get will be heavily influenced by how you ask the question. Crafting unbiased non-leading questions is more likely to earn you more honest feedback.
There is a rule about using a plethora of sources in data collection to help build your argument. The problem with this is, even trying to diversify your sources will often result in you looking for information that just further affirms what you already believe. By actively searching for information to the contrary, you will do one of two things. Either you'll feel more confident in your position, or you'll have a basis to begin reframing your thought process if there proves to be a valid alternate viewpoint.
Develop a consistent standard on how much to depend on any single source, whether surveys, government reports, or expert opinions. Look for confirmation bias in the sources you trust. Do your best to find fair and balanced representations for the information you need, or at the very least consider how the motivation and bias of the source impact their interpretation of the information.
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