Confirmation Bias

Definition of 'Confirmation Bias'


A psychological phenomenon that explains why people tend to seek out information that confirms their existing opinions and overlook or ignore information that refutes their beliefs. Confirmation bias occurs when people filter out potentially useful facts and opinions that don’t coincide with their preconceived notions. It affects perceptions and decision making in all aspects of our lives and can cause us to make less-than-optimal choices. Seeking out people and publications with different opinions than our own can help us overcome confirmation bias and make better-informed decisions.
 

Investopedia explains 'Confirmation Bias'


Confirmation bias can create problems for investors. When researching an investment, someone might inadvertently look for information that supports his or her beliefs about an investment and fail to see information that presents different ideas. The result is a one-sided view of the situation. Confirmation bias can thus cause investors to make poor decisions, whether it’s in their choice of investments or their buy-and-sell timing.
 
For example, suppose an investor hears a rumor that a company is on the verge of declaring bankruptcy. Based on that information, the investor is considering selling the stock. When he goes online to read the latest news about the company, he tends to read only the stories that confirm the likely bankruptcy scenario and he misses a story about the new product the company just launched that is expected to perform extremely well. Instead of holding the stock, he sells it at a substantial loss just before it turns around and climbs to an all-time high.
 
Confirmation bias is a source of investor overconfidence and helps explain why bulls tend to remain bullish and bears tend to remain bearish regardless of what is actually happening in the market. Confirmation bias helps explain why markets do not always behave rationally. However, an investor who is aware of confirmation bias may be able to overcome the tendency to seek out information that supports his existing opinions and intentionally seek out contradictory advice.



Filed Under:

comments powered by Disqus
Hot Definitions
  1. Benchmark Bond

    A bond that provides a standard against which the performance of other bonds can be measured. Government bonds are almost always used as benchmark bonds. Also referred to as "benchmark issue" or "bellwether issue".
  2. Market Capitalization

    The total dollar market value of all of a company's outstanding shares. Market capitalization is calculated by multiplying a company's shares outstanding by the current market price of one share. The investment community uses this figure to determine a company's size, as opposed to sales or total asset figures.
  3. Oil Reserves

    An estimate of the amount of crude oil located in a particular economic region. Oil reserves must have the potential of being extracted under current technological constraints. For example, if oil pools are located at unattainable depths, they would not be considered part of the nation's reserves.
  4. Joint Venture - JV

    A business arrangement in which two or more parties agree to pool their resources for the purpose of accomplishing a specific task. This task can be a new project or any other business activity. In a joint venture (JV), each of the participants is responsible for profits, losses and costs associated with it.
  5. Aggregate Risk

    The exposure of a bank, financial institution, or any type of major investor to foreign exchange contracts - both spot and forward - from a single counterparty or client. Aggregate risk in forex may also be defined as the total exposure of an entity to changes or fluctuations in currency rates.
  6. Organic Growth

    The growth rate that a company can achieve by increasing output and enhancing sales. This excludes any profits or growth acquired from takeovers, acquisitions or mergers. Takeovers, acquisitions and mergers do not bring about profits generated within the company, and are therefore not considered organic.
Trading Center