The Echoes of the Mind (78) Bias


A well-proportioned mind is one which shows no particular bias. ~ English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy

Bias is a subconsciously imposed preference. Human tendency toward bias is innate, owing to the habit of the mind to categorize, coupled with the power that affect has on decisions. Besides conforming to preferential memory, biases provide comfort to an otherwise restless mind.

Uncertainty revs the mind into a tizzy, seeking determination. The predictable-world bias is the tendency to perceive order where it does not exist. The mind’s proclivity to pattern resolution facilitates this bias. More generally, biases creep into assessment and judgment as a matter of course.

People exercise an unconscious selection in being influenced. ~ American poet and essayist T.S. Elliot

In one experiment, heterosexuals found those of the other gender more sexually attractive if pictured with larger pupils. Those gazing at the photos were unaware of being influenced by pupil size.

The mind quickly makes judgments, placing most biases beyond scrutiny. Hindsight often only provides an excuse for ersatz rationalization.

The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend. ~ Canadian novelist Robertson Davies

Expectations bias evaluation of new information in one of two ways, depending upon the ambiguity of the information.

Ambiguous information is interpreted to fit preconceptions. A smile may seem affectionate from someone we like, and a smirk from someone we do not.

Certitude is beyond denial. But if the information is inconsistent with expectations, it receives more scrutiny than information consistent with that expected.

The strongest distinguishing characteristic of humans is their power of denial. ~ American scholar Deborah Harkness

People are rational enough to attempt cognitive consistency. Evidence that presents incongruity to opinion is often massaged until incorporated as confirming or picked at until its certainty is discounted.

People tend to interpret subsequent evidence so as to maintain their initial beliefs. The biased assimilation processes underlying this effect may include a propensity to remember the strengths of confirming evidence, but the weaknesses of disconfirming evidence, to judge confirming evidence as relevant and reliable but disconfirming evidence as irrelevant and unreliable, and to accept confirming evidence at face value while scrutinizing disconfirming evidence hypercritically. ~ American psychologist Charles Lord et al