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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.

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.”

This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

GLENN: Good news and bad news. Which do you want to hear first? According to researchers from the University of London, it doesn't really matter which one you hear first. Good news or bad news, it doesn't matter. You're more likely to believe the good news on something called the desirability bias.

Desirability bias is when you consider information more credible because it makes you feel good. It helps explain the whole social media fake news phenomena. When you see something -- it's not confirmation bias -- it's desirability bias, that is actually more difficult and more troubling.

Researchers at the university of London set up a study just before the 2016 presidential election, and they took 900 voters, who were diehard Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump fans.

And they asked them, which one do you support, and which one is going to win? Researchers then separated the voters into the two groups.

They gave the first group polling results that indicated that Trump would win. And the second group resulting in Hillary's win.

With this new information, they were asked, who do you think is going to win?

The result of the study was clear: The desirability bias changes people's minds. People believed the polling results that were given only when their poll indicated that their candidate would win. They would even change it, if their candidate was shown to be winning in a strong poll, even if they thought Clinton might win, they changed it. And they dug their heels in.

So what does all of this mean?

It means that we are listening to the things that let us believe the things we want to believe.

The lesson for politics is really clear, and it's something that is a lost art now on both sides of the aisle.

If you want to persuade people, you have to get them to want to agree with you. This is the biggest problem now. People become monsters and pariahs. And they -- and strident. And so nobody wants -- you don't -- you don't like them. You don't want to agree with them.

Reagan was a guy who really understood this. He was called the great communicator. He won 49 states in the '84 election. And that's because he said things that people wanted to believe.

Now we can't fathom a candidate appealing across the aisle. In fact, I think if you see a candidate that tries to appeal to the other side, you immediately mark them as a traitor. We saw Obama supporters blinded by the desirability bias for eight years. They would not believe reports about the IRS. That he was using the IRS, because they didn't want to believe that.

Now we're seeing the same thing with the Trump base. We have to move past this concept of the presidency as the ultimate bully pulpit.

It's not what the executive office was designed to be. And it will not help heal our divisions.

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