An anchoring bias is when a person is, “over-reliant on the first piece of information they hear” (Baer, Drake, and Lubin, Gus).
In essence, what story we were told and by who becomes the most important part of the information we receive.
For instance, when “The DR Survey” participants were asked, “What media do you use to stay informed on politics and current events?”
The responses were telling as the results listed: CNN (50%), NPR (42%), Fox News and MSNBC (38%), Facebook News Feed (35%) and Facebook Posts (From Family & Friends) (31%).
Thus, it is effortless to see how someone that first learns of a breaking news event from NPR would/could drastically differ from someone that is informed by a friend’s Facebook post. Let’s use a fictional scenario as an example of how received information is subject to personal bias.
Imagine you are listening to a political pundit on the radio, and the program is interrupted by a breaking news story. The breaking report says,
“There is an ongoing active shooter in Atlanta, Georgia. Reports are coming in that 14 people have been shot inside a local bar. The shooter has been killed and has been identified as Muhammad Abbasi. That is all the information we have at this time. Stay tuned for updates as this situation continues to unfold.”
The program goes back to the host who begins to rant about “radical Islamic Muslim terrorists!”
In light of recent events, you would most likely share the host’s preconceived conclusion. You would likely assume it was an intentional attack by a “radical Islamic” terrorist. Honestly, would you not?
Let’s move forward with our story.
You arrive to work and go about your business day. During your lunch break, you log in to Facebook and see a bunch of articles posted about this latest attack. You see a report from CNN, and it states the offense “appears to be a disgruntled worker.”
Then, of course, you see a few “news” posts from “some dude’s” blog stating it was a terrorist attack. The article’s wording contains the following:
“Another Muslim terrorist attack! A religion of peace, my ass! Thanks, Obama!”
You may think to yourself, “I knew it! The liberal media is trying to cover up the real reason! This is yet another senseless attack against American citizens by radical Muslims. Oh yeah, for some reason Obama is to blame!”
This would be an example of confirmation bias which is when we “listen only to the information that confirms our preconceptions — one of the many reasons it’s so hard to have an intelligent conversation” (Baer, Drake, and Lubin, Gus).
Buy someone you love some drawers for this upcoming holiday season. New DRAWERS are the “big” thing for 2017:
Baer, Drake, and Lubin, Gus “58 Cognitive Biases That Screw Up Everything We Do.” Business Insider 18 Jun.2014.