Feeds

Prof: People reject news which conflicts with beliefs

Utter rubbish, according to open-minded observers

Business security measures using SSL

It's well known that people have a tendency to seek out information which confirms what they already believe. Beancurd-scoffing hippies read the Guardian; mindless bigoted reactionaries read the Daily Mail; people who feel that the IT industry would benefit from the involvement of Paris Hilton in some way read the Reg.

But now, researchers in Illinois have formally quantified this trend.

"We wanted to see exactly across the board to what extent people are willing to seek out the truth versus just stay comfortable with what they know," says Illinois Uni psychology prof Dolores Albarracín.

She and her colleagues reviewed 91 different previous studies involving 8,000 respondents. They found that yes, people generally do prefer information that supports their own point of view. Respondents in the various surveys cited were about twice as likely to express a preference for news or information they agreed with, compared to data which upset them.

People are a bit more open-minded on subjects which they don't see as touching on moral values, however.

"If the issues concern moral values or politics, about 70 per cent of the time you will choose congenial information, versus about 60 per cent of the time if the issues are not related to values," according to Albarracín.

The prof added that, counterintuitively, it is those with little confidence in their own beliefs who are least willing to consider opposing views. People who are sure they're right are actually more likely to listen to the other side of an argument.

Presumably this research has only a one-third chance of being accepted by people who consider the population - and by extension themselves - to be generally open-minded.

Prof Albarracín and her colleagues' research can be read here in pdf. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.