Study Shows That People Use ‘Desirability Bias’ to Filter What News They Believe

What’s going on?

Breaking: People don’t like news that contradicts what they believe.

But here’s the bigger problem: People are not only more likely to dismiss news that contradicts their beliefs, but also prone to using news that supports their political or ideological leanings as evidence. This double standard played out in a University of London study following the 2016 election.

Show me the bias …

Researchers surveyed 900 Americans and found that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton supporters were both likely to change their prediction of the election based on what national polling they were shown. If the poll fit with the result the participants wanted, they were more likely to base their answer on that poll.

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Bloomberg reported:

“The main result was clear: Both Trump and Clinton voters were far more likely to change their beliefs when the new information fit with their desires. They found the polls credible, and a reason to change their views, only if they suggested that their preferred candidate would win.”

Glenn’s take:

Unfortunately, people too often aren’t driven by facts – they’re influenced by the biases that they bring in to any conversation.

“The lesson for politics is really clear,” Glenn said. “If you want to persuade people, you have to get them to want to agree with you.”