Humans actively sample evidence to support prior beliefs.


Type
Article
Change log
Authors
Sepulveda, Pradyumna  ORCID logo  https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0159-6777
Folke, Tomas 
De Martino, Benedetto  ORCID logo  https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3555-2732
Abstract

No one likes to be wrong. Previous research has shown that participants may underweight information incompatible with previous choices, a phenomenon called confirmation bias. In this paper, we argue that a similar bias exists in the way information is actively sought. We investigate how choice influences information gathering using a perceptual choice task and find that participants sample more information from a previously chosen alternative. Furthermore, the higher the confidence in the initial choice, the more biased information sampling becomes. As a consequence, when faced with the possibility of revising an earlier decision, participants are more likely to stick with their original choice, even when incorrect. Critically, we show that agency controls this phenomenon. The effect disappears in a fixed sampling condition where presentation of evidence is controlled by the experimenter, suggesting that the way in which confirmatory evidence is acquired critically impacts the decision process. These results suggest active information acquisition plays a critical role in the propagation of strongly held beliefs over time.

Description
Keywords
confirmation bias, decision-making, human, information sampling, neuroscience, Bias, Humans
Journal Title
Elife
Conference Name
Journal ISSN
2050-084X
2050-084X
Volume Title
11
Publisher
eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd
Sponsorship
Wellcome Trust (102612/Z/13/Z)