Belief Bias Effect

People get confused when they hear something they agree with from someone they dislike.

Max hidingLikewise, people are often blind to bad ideas when they come from someone they admire. ~ Mike Rowe

Get ready, we’re going deep into the human psyche today.

1) I watched a tragedy unfold on live television, but I denied it was happening.

9-11 mem postThank you wikipedia

2) My husband had an accident at work and experienced excruciating pain in his feet. He denied it was happening.

gmaxsunDuring a crisis, or something that doesn’t really seem believable, the human mind will tell itself that something else is happening. The mind reasons using a logic it all ready believes in or understands. It’s called, the belief bias effect.

For example, in the case of number one above, it refers to 9/11. As I watched it unfold, my mind could not logically comprehend that anyone would fly planes into buildings. Because I’ve all ready had a bias of thinking that no human being could ever do such a thing, my mind created logical scenarios that would fit that belief. 1) I must be dreaming, 2) it must be a hoax, 3) we had accidentally changed the channel to an action-thriller movie.

When my husband had his recent accident, his mind conjured up a more simple explanation. He told me he had sprained an ankle and to come pick him up from the hospital. After x-rays, we learned that both of his feet were shattered. Even in excruciating pain, his mind went to the biased explanation that would make more sense and work better for him.

Isn’t it fascinating how the human mind works? This is all part of the challenge of the human experience.

crazy mindWhat can we learn from this? How can we apply whatever we learn to help us with our lives?

Take a look at the quote at the start of this post. If someone we dislike says something we agree with, it throws our reasoning off. Because we dislike the person, there’s no way we could agree with them, right? And, if we do, does that make us unlikable, too? The mind may actually conjure up a way to make the person wrong, even though we originally agreed with their statement, idea or opinion.

If someone we admire comes up with some bad idea that we normally wouldn’t agree with, our mind might reason itself into thinking that they must know what they’re talking about. Our belief in that person might overshadow our reasoning. Some people may even change their opinion to agree with that person they admire, ignoring their own heart and/or the facts.

It seems we humans are very angrily divided these days. Before we make a final judgment, perhaps we can take into account the belief bias effect and introspect on it. Make sure we aren’t being biased with our preconceived notions about the messenger.

We are a diverse world with unique perspectives. It’s what makes each one of us special in our own way. Don’t be fooled by the media machine of equality = the same for everyone. We aren’t exactly the same in the way we think, feel, agree, behave, nor do we all want the exact same things. How boring would it be?

Maybe I’m a Pollyanna, but I think it’s possible for us to focus on our common ground and not make other people evil for having a different viewpoint.

Have you ever found your mind trying to make logic out of something that appeared illogical to you? Did someone you admire ever come up with a stupid idea that you tried to make sense of? Did anyone you dislike ever say something you agreed with?

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32 comments

  1. This is a really interesting concept, particularly for someone like me. I tend to believe everything no matter what or who the source. I believe first, then maybe ask questions later.

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  2. I’m the ornery sort that initially disagrees with the people I like. It’s a means of defense, I think. The more they prove themselves and keep their integrity, the more I admire them and accept their advice.

    On the other hand, I look for ways to agree with those with whom my philosophy of life is in direct conflict. It’s easier to count the positives than the negatives. And it benefits my stance to explore theirs. I’m, hopefully, more capable of conversing on the tenets I don’t necessarily agree with. That way I’m not speaking out of ignorance or fear; I’ve drawn thoughtful conclusions.

    Great post! And, yes; when a crisis occurs, the mind seems to cushion the blow until the truth can be accepted. I’ve been in the midst of a bad experience, too, for the past few weeks. It’s mentally exhausting. Hang in there!

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    1. Rilla, My heart goes out to you in whatever it is you’ve been dealing with. You are so right about being mentally exhausting. Whew! Thanks for saying that, I feel validated. I hope things improve for you soon. Thank you for your input here on this subject. I’m surprised to hear that you are more likely to see positives in someone you disagree with. That’s fantastic. I have difficulty with this, and I usually write what I need to learn. Take care.

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  3. There are a lot of different scenarios I could relate to this but the one that immediately came to mind was the time I drove up on a derailed train. I had this delayed-reaction screaming thing because my mind truly couldn’t comprehend that level of destruction. To this day it still trips me up to think about.

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  4. I remember when I broke my arm I refused to admit that happened. Because it would set off a chain reaction of changes and fears. So instead I said my arm was sore for 8 hours. And I didn’t move it. It’s amazing what we can convince ourselves when we can’t deal with the reality of what is happening.

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    1. Wow, this really says a lot, Kourtney. Your experience can explain other issues other than physical, too. Like, why people are unwilling to open their eyes to other things. It may be for fear of having walls crumble down that will cause them to face things they don’t want to face. Yikes, though … 8 hours. Ouch! Thanks for your input.

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  5. Interesting post. I always thought news, good or bad, affected by the delivery, and I guess belief bias effect comes in play there. Like with newsreaders who are chosen for their visual appeal and credibility… being a spokesperson or propenant there’s definitely merit in keeping a good public reputation. Just one of the ways the media is manipulated.

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  6. What a great post, Lori! I, too, am fascinated by the human mind. It does the strangest things that we so often accept as normal. I have tried so much to turn over so many nooks & crannies of the mind, to find ways of agreeing with those my mind judges, to outwit that crafty fox. I can’t think of an example of not being able to comprehend something that seems illogical, though. Probably it’s happened a billion times, but I can’t come up with an example. My mind usually rather quickly adapts to new things and says “this, too”. That doesn’t mean my heart can understand it, though. Thanks for this.

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  7. I agree with you, Lori. Although we are all equal, this is NOT a one-size-fits-all proposition, and that equality is free to express in many different ways. That said, I hope that your husband’s temporary belief that he’d only suffered a sprain helped support him until he got to the hospital to get proper attention…and beyond Also, since we are all One, I’m bound to agree with someone I generally disagree with at least once in a while, lol xoxoM

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    1. Hey Miss M. My husband sometimes tends to fool himself with rosy glasses. When he realizes the truth, he takes a hard fall. Thankfully, it’s not for long, though. He’s half-way through his recovery now. Thank you for your input.

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  8. It can be difficult to step outside of our own preconceived notions and really examine something, but when we do, we might be surprised at what we find. Doing so takes practice. And patience. And probably several decades on this earth. 🙂

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    1. Hey Carrie. Perhaps it takes a crisis for some of us to examine ourselves. At least that’s why I started to examine me. Thanks for your input.

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    1. I’m always questioning myself and why I behave certain ways … sometimes to a fault. The human mind fascinates me, though. As always, thank you for reading and commenting.

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  9. This is an excellent and timely post. So much Internet discourse is full of personal attacks, insulting and belittling. People claim they want to have a discussion about controversial topics, but frankly, I think most people just want to prove their own point. I think people are so defensive and lack self-confidence that they shut out other points of view entirely.

    I’ve found myself in very uncomfortable situations with people who clearly have opposite beliefs from my own, but still, I’m usually able to find common ground somewhere. It makes for a more pleasant interaction with others and each party leaves with their convictions intact, so it’s a win-win to me. 🙂

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    1. Hi Joy. Even when we don’t find common ground, we should be able to let and let live. It seems that people aren’t willing to do that these days. Everyone wants to force others to live their way, or believe their way, and if they don’t, somehow we shun one another. I wanted to point out another perspective with this blog post. I appreciate you understanding my point and giving your own input.

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  10. Some interesting points here Lori, yes, I’m sure this has happened to me – and when someone irritates me, I’m always trying to think about why that person has irritated me so much – is it because I see something in them I don’t like in myself – or do I value someone more because our values are similar.

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    1. Hey Andrea. You made a good point, and I think I wrote about it once on my blog. The idea that someone annoys us could mean they are mirroring something back to us that we can’t face in ourselves. Thanks so much for your input.

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  11. Very true about being biased. It’s hard to see it in yourself – always fairly easy to spot in others – sigh. Being human is tough – being a kind, fair, and thoughtful human even tougher. Sorry about your husband’s feet – what the heck happened there?!

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    1. Hey There. The puzzles of the human mind fascinate me. Thanks for the support on my hubby. He fell from a supply ledge at work. They say it’s about a 12-foot drop. We’ve made it half-way through what we were told would be about a 5-month recovery.

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