The Danger of Confirmation Bias in Your Hospital and Your Life

by Rebecca on November 26, 2012

truefalseAwhile back, I learned about confirmation bias and realized this was definitely something I had experienced. I bet you have also.  I know I have held a confirmation bias towards some people and I am sure some people think certain things about me that may not be true as well.  I also believe some people may experience confirmation bias more frequently than others-probably based on their past experiences.

What is confirmation bias?  It is a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses.  Once we believe something to be true, we will find examples to affirm our existing attitudes and beliefs.

Have you ever had an employee you concluded was lazy?  If so, once you concluded that individual was lazy, you will pick out things to confirm what you believe.  You could have two employees exhibiting the exact same behavior, and if you have a confirmation bias towards one employee, you will pick out what that employee is doing while you will likely overlook the same behavior in the other employee.  As you can imagine, this can be a very dangerous thing within your hospital team.

This can also happen in your personal life with your significant other or your kids.  Unfortunately, I know I have been guilty of this myself.  I have thought that Jeff was not helping me around the house, and instead of noticing all the things he actually was doing to help, I just noticed when he WAS NOT doing.    This can be a very dangerous path to go down if you are unaware that it is happening.

So how do I try to remedy this dangerous bias in my life?  When I find myself falling into this pattern, I will take a step back and try to determine if what I believe to be true is true, and 9 times out of 10 it is not.

This has been a powerful thing for me. When I feel like I am starting to tell myself stories about someone’s behavior in my head, I will take a step back and analyze if what I am thinking about that person is actually true or just a story I’m spinning about them in my head.  Doing this helps me reduce confirmation bias in my life and at work.

So what about you? Have you ever been guilty of experiencing confirmation bias in your animal hospital or your home?

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