You tend to listen only to what you want and ignore the rest, study points

People tend to listen to what they want, and ignore what is not convenient for them and what they prefer not to be true. At least, that’s what an Oxford University study claims.

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  • According to this article, people with similar ideas tend to become more biased when they exchange beliefs with each other. Motivated beliefs (and the reasoning behind them) can generate serious trends as they have been speculated to explain the proliferation of misinformation in online forums.

    Researchers used laboratory experiments to study whether these biases in beliefs became more severe when people exchanged these thoughts with each other. The team compared individuals based on their score on an IQ test, such that both members scored above the median or both members scored below the median. The subjects then exchanged beliefs about a proposition they both wanted to believe was true: that they were in the high IQ group.

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    The experiment revealed that people who are pessimistic for being in the high IQ group tend to be become significantly more optimistic when compared to a more optimistic counterpart. An optimistic person, however, is unlikely to change their beliefs if paired with a more pessimistic counterpart. The effect was strong for people who are in the low IQ group, which produces more severe tendencies. Overall, the results suggest that the amplification of this trend occurs because people selectively attribute greater informational value to social signals that reinforce their pre-existing motivation to believe.

    In the middle of the experiment , when researchers offered participants unbiased information about which group they were in, prejudices were automatically removed, as there was no tendency to make a person believe more in a particular belief. Thus, the results suggest that reliable and impartial communication sources can positively impact people in different scenarios, from the financial market to, for example, the so-called “echo chambers”, in which people tend to approach only those who have similar ideologies, something recurrent in social networks. The full study can be accessed here.


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