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Belief Bias

 

Explanations > Theories > Belief Bias

DescriptionResearch | ExampleSo What? | See also | References 

 

Description

People will tend to accept any and all conclusions that fit in with their systems of belief, without challenge or any deep consideration of what they are actually agreeing with.

The reverse is also true, and people will tend to reject assertions that do not fit in with their belief systems, even though these statements may be perfectly logical and arguably possible.

This is particularly true when people ignore the premises and focus solely on the conclusions being drawn.

It is even more true of people who are not educated in logic and argumentation, as such people reason by experience and not at all by logic.

Research

Luria (1976) asked illiterate farmers in Central Asia to reason deductively, giving them statements like: "In the far north, where there is snow, all bears are white. Novaga Zamlya is in the far north. What color are the bears there?"

The responses were such as, "I don't know...I've seen a black bear, but not others. Each area has it's own type of animals, you know..."

Example

I will accept that some good ice skaters are not professional hockey players, but will reject an assertion that some professional hockey players are not good ice skaters (which, although it seems unlikely, is possible).

So What?

Using it

Do not try to persuade people with pure logic when you are talking about things that are outside their beliefs.

The converse is also true: If you argue within their belief system then you can persuade them of things that are not strictly true.

Defending

When you are listening to arguments of others, think not only whether something 'makes sense' - think also with a cold logic as to whether it is possible or true.

See also

Belief Perseverance

References

Syllogistic Reasoning

Henle (1962), Luria (1976)

 

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