Defined in an article I read this morning online, confirmation bias is:
… when we only read material, attend events, join organizations or hire employees that match our own backgrounds, experiences and beliefs. It’s when we screen out information we might not agree with.
It’s an Op-Ed piece by Cheryl I. Procter-Rogers, President, the Public Relations Society of America that relates to the challenges public relations professionals face when we-the-people have the ability to so narrowly focus our attentions — after all, there’s little point in preaching to the choir.
Her concern, which relates equally to advertisers, is of little concern to me as I am always looking for ways to filter out the sales pitches, whether outright advertising or advertising via subtrafuge, ie pr. (Yes, I used to be a publicist.) However, she does raise an excellent point about the downside of such filtering:
I speak often to our members about the unintended consequence of confirmation bias on our society—more intolerance and even less understanding of our differences. Thanks to the Internet, TiVo and Sirius satellite radio, one can have one’s biases validated daily by self-selection.
That is something worth thinking about….and, all together now, that is why I love blogs and the serendipity afforded by the Internet.