During the most recent elections, scammers would create websites that catered to different ends of the political spectrum. They then created articles and blog posts that were specifically designed to attract attention from those that were heavily invested in right leaning or left leaning politics.
One of the ways they did this was they would take a video of two politicians debating, and they would then give it a headline that appealed to their target, with titles like:
- Watch as Candidate 1 DOMINATES Candidate 2 on the Debate Stage.
- Watch as Candidate 1 STUMBLES through an answer. Candidate 2 thrives!
What was remarkable, though, is that both websites – which sometimes were owned and operated by the same scammer – posted the same exact video. No additional editing. No additional content. It was the same video with two completely different titles, one of which makes it sound as though the first candidate was amazing, the other made it sound like the first candidate was foolish.
And what happened was both posts would take off. Even though they viewed the same video, one side thought candidate 1 “dominated” candidate 2, and the other thought candidate 1 was a complete fool, even though the only difference was the title.
In life, we often look for and see whatever it is that we want to find. This is known as confirmation bias. We look at the world intentionally or unintentionally trying to confirm our world view, and we ignore the information that would challenge that view. We like things that confirm what we believe, and we see things through that very same lens.
How Confirmation Bias Plays a Role in Mental Health
Confirmation bias is not just about politics. It plays a role in mental health and psychology as well. For example, a person with low self-esteem will often notice when someone “looks” like they’re judging them, but ignore anything positive that they may encounter. A person that feels unfulfilled in a relationship may look for proof that the partner doesn’t care while ignoring the ways that they show love, etc.
This is one of the reasons that it can be so challenging for someone struggling with confidence, relationship issues, anxiety, and other issues to overcome them – because they may keep seeing confirmation of them in public. Therapy is there to help explore these issues and find appropriate solutions.