24 December 2008
Posted in Motivation Theories
Psychology defines it as a tendency to adapt some fresh information in a way that goes along with our beliefs, thoughts and ideas.
A lot of research has been carried out on this theory. On record, the first one to work on and establish the disconfirmation bias theory was Peter Cathcart Wason in the year 1960. It is a famous story how he presented his theory with three numbers 2,4,6 and told everybody that they were formed from some complex rule. These three numbers were given to some people to experiment upon and were told to find the rule and generate their own triples. When people generated any rule, the experimenter would tell them if their numbers were according to the rule. The actual rule was just that they were ascending even numbers! But since they thinking of the people was influenced they failed to recognize and accept this rule. So much so, that they had even declared that the rule was too complex! There are many interesting stories on how research was conducted on this topic. Another classic example can be seen from Lord, Ross and Lepper’s explanation. They chose some people who were staunch supporters for and against death penalty sentence as a punishment. They gave them some fake theories and research papers on death penalty as a punishment. It was found that all those who were for the sentence firmly believed in all the papers that supported their beliefs and found out faults in the theories against their beliefs. This example firmly established the disconfirmation bias theory. Exactly opposite to this the confirmation bias theory was also established simultaneously. It is on similar lines stating that we tend to interpret information as we want it to be, according to our beliefs and thoughts on that topic. The reason for this was given that our human mind likes to accept things according to our convenience and in a way that will not cause us any discomfort and cognitive dissonance.
The disconfirmation bias was widely studied to find out what kind of motivation is necessary for overcoming the confirmation bias in our mind. There were two cases in this motivation theory. One was that somehow manipulate either our goals to suit as per the subjects beliefs. In this case, it is very easy to motivate and normal motivation methods help to make the subject perform better. However, the other case is if the subject does not believe in our goal. In this case the only thing that works is to bombard the subject with very strong evidences that are against his beliefs but are so strong that they make the subject change his beliefs all together. It was found that this was the only solution and after achieving this, motivation the subject becomes easy and thus performance can be increased.