Sound Familiar?

To be filed under the “thanks for telling us what we’ve always known” section:

People sometimes seek the truth, but most prefer like-minded views.

The analysis, reported this month in Psychological Bulletin, published by the American Psychological Association, was led by researchers at the University of Illinois and the University of Florida, and included data from 91 studies involving nearly 8,000 participants. It puts to rest a longstanding debate over whether people actively avoid information that contradicts what they believe, or whether they are simply exposed more often to ideas that conform to their own because they tend to be surrounded by like-minded people.

“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,” said University of Illinois psychology professor Dolores Albarracín, who led the study with University of Florida researcher William Hart. The team also included researchers from Northwestern University and Ohio University.

The studies they reviewed generally asked participants about their views on a given topic and then allowed them to choose whether they wanted to view or read information supporting their own or an opposing point of view.

The researchers found that people are about twice as likely to select information that supports their own point of view (67 percent) as to consider an opposing idea (33 percent).

Certain individuals, those with close-minded personalities, are even more reluctant to expose themselves to differing perspectives, Albarracín said. They will opt for the information that corresponds to their views nearly 75 percent of the time.

The researchers also found, not surprisingly, that people are more resistant to new points of view when their own ideas are associated with political, religious or ethical values.

“If you are really committed to your own attitude – for example, if you are a very committed Democrat – you are more likely to seek congenial information, that is, information that corresponds with your views,” Albarracín said. “If the issues concern moral values or politics, about 70 percent of the time you will choose congenial information, versus about 60 percent of the time if the issues are not related to values.”


“For the most part it seems that people tend to stay with their own beliefs and attitudes because changing those might prevent them from living the lives they’re living,” Albarracín said. “But it’s good news that one out of three times, or close to that, they are willing to seek out the other side.

Full paper:  Feeling Validated Versus Being Correct: A Meta-Analysis of Selective Exposure to Information


  1. bigfatfurrytexan says:

    I have taken awhile to compose this, as i wanted to get it right.

    People do not look inside themselves. This is why people tend to seek out belief systems that coincide with their own. I also believe that the times that people DO venture outside their belief system it is done with a mindset that will prevent them from really ever seeing the opposing viewpoint.

    Lets take politics as an example. You will be hard pressed to find anyone who is genuine (not a shill) that would disagree that just about everyone in Washington has failed us. Most would also wax poetic with you about the “good old days”, as the values of old definitely has some nostalgic attraction (if you discount the uglier side, like rampant racism and the near miss we had with the caste system).

    Despite the readily given admission of this, you will find very few people who would ever consider voting for a third party candidate. Perhaps it is the meme that it would be a “wasted vote” that does it. Perhaps it is just too hard to shake off a lifetime of programming (see the concepts of the Mental Information Processing Grid put forth by Ingo Swann..great way to conceptualize how mental programming works). I am unsure why it happens, i just know it happens.

    And it is because of this that we have sayings like “Madness is repeating the same steps, yet expecting different results.” It is an astute observation, made obvious by mankinds propensity to seek out processes that are comfortable and familiar to them.

    If you took a poll amongst Christians, where it was completely anonymous, you would find that a HUGE number believe a very small amount of what is in the bible to be realistic. Yet they will openly defend the belief. It is like people tend to fracture their mind to think in two levels: personal and public. Our personal thoughts so very rarely represent our public thoughts. That is for sure.

    This is a good topic, Sdog. 🙂 Cognitive science is something that i love to dive into.

  2. MemoryShock says:

    Birds of a feather?

    How much money was spent to reaffirm an ism…lol

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