Information Avoidance

Information Avoidance July 2, 2009

Ars technica considers an analysis of how our beliefs determine the information we allow ourselves to be exposed to:

Analysis of the studies shows that people are almost two times more likely to select information that is congenial to their current beliefs and behaviors than they are to pick information that opposes them. That is to say, when offered material containing views that were contrary to their beliefs (either in article or broadcast form), people had only a one-in-three chance of taking a closer look at that information.

Not terribly suprising, but it does help explain why so many persist in their beliefs despite evidence to the contrary. This bit is particularly interesting:

The study also found that people who are unsure of their beliefs are actually more likely to avoid conflicting views.

My gut reaction was to think this can’t possibly be true; If there’s one thing people abhor more than anything, it’s uncertainty. But perhaps there is something worse: fear. Fear that you might be wrong.

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