Confirmation Bias among Business Students: the Impact on Decision-Making
Kerry P. Gatlin, Dan Hallock, Lisa G. Cooley

Confirmation Bias is a common problem for decision makers in organizations as well as in society-at-large. Causes include attribution error, optimism bias, primacy effect, anchoring, and self-serving bias. Collectively these have a negative impact on the accuracy and quality of decision-making. This study replicates initial work on confirmation bias conducted by Wason in the l960s but focuses on a sample of business students rather than the general public. A total of one hundred thirty students were presented with a sequence of numbers that ‘follow a pattern or rule’. Participants were asked to give other examples that follow the same rule and then to describe the rule. Participantswere then asked to identify their level of confidence that they had in fact uncovered the rule. One hundred seventeen out of one hundred thirty students incorrectly identified the rule yet expressed a confidence level exceeding 88%. The confidence level for the thirteen students identifying the correct rule was only 54.3%. The research suggests that business educators may need to focus on critical thinking and teaching skills such as ‘devil’s advocate’ that will help improve analytical reasoning and reduce the tendency toward confirmation bias among future business leaders.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/rcbr.v6n2a2