Questions for “Confidence can make you miss important information”

four kids wearing backpacks tand together in a group holding smartphones

If you believe something, it’s easy to find lots of people and articles online that will agree with you. But focusing too much on those is called confirmation bias — the tendency to seek out information that agrees with what you believe. Along the way, you’ll overlook information that might prove you wrong.

Kerkez/iStock/Getty Images Plus

To accompany feature “Confidence can make you miss important information


Before Reading:

1. What is bias? Does it suggest something good, bad or neutral?

2. Are you generally a confident person? Why — or why not? What gives you confidence? What tends to reduce your confidence?

During Reading:

1.  The story says our brains are very susceptible to what is known as confirmation bias. What is that?

2.  How did the study on house values test someone’s confirmation bias?

3.  Where is the posterior medial prefrontal cortex? What role did it play in pointing to confirmation bias in people guessing home values?

4.  The second study described in this story examines what is making the brain ignore what it doesn’t want to hear. What was that?

5.  What is a magnetoencephalogram and how was it used in the second study?

6.  Alice Atkin says the two papers described in this story “speak to each other.” What does she mean by that?

7.  Says Jonas Kaplan, confirmation bias isn’t always a bad thing. Why is that?

8.  Why does Kaplan say the internet may be a problem for people who are very vulnerable to confirmation bias?

9.  How does Read Montague suggest fighting confirmation bias?

After Reading:

1.  Give an example of some issue where you or some member of your family has exhibited confirmation bias. Explain how it appears to have helped or hurt their dealing with issues?

2.  As the studies on housing values and dots show, you don’t have to have strong opinions about a subject to be susceptible to confirmation bias. If you know that about yourself (or some family member), how would you go about making yourself (or family member) less vulnerable?