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Your Surroundings Mirror Your Beliefs
Date:7/1/2009

fool or confused, having these more uncertain feelings."

But there are exceptions, she added. "One class of folks are what we called 'defensively confident,'" she said, noting that they will actively seek out opposing points of view.

"These are the folks who like to go into debate," she added. "They feel super-confident. They go and read anything and refute it."

On the other hand, people with the most firm beliefs are less likely to seek out other opinions. "The more dogmatic and close-minded you are, the worse the bias is," Albarracin said.

Michael Young, an associate professor of psychology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, noted that the study itself is revealing: it points to examples of bias toward conservatism -- including mentions of Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney -- without looking at the other side.

"It is always easier for us to identify these biases that suggest close-mindedness in others than it is to identify them in ourselves or those who agree with us, even if you are a scientist who studies bias," he said.

Peter H. Ditto, a psychology professor at the University of California at Irvine, said the study "confirms a lot of previous scientific work -- and conforms nicely to most people's intuitions."

Ditto said, "We are not rational information processors -- or information seekers. We perceive ourselves as seekers of the truth. We don't try to just seek out information that will confirm our beliefs, otherwise we would see our own illicit hand in constructing a biased truth. But when we go looking for the truth, we usually look toward places and people that are likely to believe as we believe."

More information

Trinity University has more on social psychology.



SOURCES: Dolores Albarracin, Ph.D., professor of psychology, University
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