I decided to write a little mini-series on cognitive biases, that we as marketers encounter every day - most of the time we are unaware of them; sometimes we choose to ignore them. But, they have tremendous impact on how we do our work.
I want to start by exploring the very common 'confirmation bias.' On a very basic level confirmation bias is our belief or desire for something to be true, and we therefore overvalue evidence that confirms our belief and disvalue or ignore evidence that disproves our belief. As humans, we employ confirmation bias on a daily basis - we form assumptions and make decisions with almost no evidence at all (our hunches and instincts); so when we see information that supports our decisions, we highly value it.
As a marketer, confirmation bias can be quite damaging: it can prevent us from an objective analysis of how to achieve best achieve the results we aim to achieve. It can do this in multiple ways. Here are just a few I have encountered over time:
1. A tunnel vision in reviewing and analyzing hard data
2. Discounting qualitative data as not relevant
3. Addressing an imaginary target audience
4. Taking personal experience as a representative example (I call this "focus group of 1)
So, remember: "We do not see things the way they are, we see them as we are." If you understand your own view of the world, you'll be able to keep bias out of your marketing and improve results.
Confirmation bias can work in a number of different ways, but it always distorts the objective truth, which compromises your ability to draw accurate conclusions and take the right actions accordingly.