Disfluency disrupts the confirmation bias

Publication Type:

Journal Article

Source:

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 49, Number 1, p.178-182 (2013)

URL:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002210311200176X

DOI:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2012.08.010

Keywords:

Attitude change, Confirmation bias, Fluency, Persuasion

Abstract:

One difficulty in persuasion is overcoming the confirmation bias, where people selectively seek evidence that is consistent with their prior beliefs and expectations. This biased search for information allows people to analyze new information in an efficient, but shallow way. The present research discusses how experienced difficultly in processing (disfluency) can reduce the confirmation bias by promoting careful, analytic processing. In two studies, participants with prior attitudes on an issue became less extreme after reading an argument on the issues in a disfluent format. The change occurred for both naturally occurring attitudes (i.e. political ideology) and experimentally assigned attitudes (i.e. positivity toward a court defendant). Importantly, disfluency did not reduce confirmation biases when participants were under cognitive load, suggesting that cognitive resources are necessary to overcome these biases. Overall, these results suggest that changing the style of an argument's presentation can lead to attitude change by promoting more comprehensive consideration of opposing views.