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What Is the Function of Confirmation Bias?

Peters, U; (2020) What Is the Function of Confirmation Bias? Erkenntnis 10.1007/s10670-020-00252-1. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Confirmation bias is one of the most widely discussed epistemically problematic cognitions, challenging reliable belief formation and the correction of inaccurate views. Given its problematic nature, it remains unclear why the bias evolved and is still with us today. To offer an explanation, several philosophers and scientists have argued that the bias is in fact adaptive. I critically discuss three recent proposals of this kind before developing a novel alternative, what I call the ‘reality-matching account’. According to the account, confirmation bias evolved because it helps us influence people and social structures so that they come to match our beliefs about them. This can result in significant developmental and epistemic benefits for us and other people, ensuring that over time we don’t become epistemically disconnected from social reality but can navigate it more easily. While that might not be the only evolved function of confirmation bias, it is an important one that has so far been neglected in the theorizing on the bias.

Type: Article
Title: What Is the Function of Confirmation Bias?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s10670-020-00252-1
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-020-00252-1
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2020. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Economics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10108386
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