Academic Journal – Confirmation Bias

This academic journal explores the presence of confirmation bias in criminal cases and how various elements, primarily media coverage, can have severe influence on how they are “influenced by their initial hypotheses regarding a crime” prior to even hearing arguments from both sides of the investigation, making “judgements that conformed to the hypothesis that had initially been presented to them”. This is known as the term, confirmation bias, which is the tendency to search for, interpret and recall information that confirms a pre-existing belief and hypothesis. This form of cognitive bias can be perpetuated through bias interpretation of the information provided as well as selective information search, meaning to taking parts of the information given in order to support their initial preconceived conception. Remembering information in a way that bends to support your belief is also something that happens in confirmation bias and leads you to overlook critical and key elements that could sway you to view the information differently. This effect is intensified in emotionally charged instances, which is what we see evidenced in the TV show, Teen Wolf, whereby the character Lydia refuses to accept the remote possibility that Stiles may not exist. In this display of confirmation bias, she ignores any information that indicates he doesn’t exist and chooses to favour any shred of ambiguous evidence and lead that reinforces what she already believes to be true, thus propelling her frantic, emotionally charged, desperate search for Stiles ultimately resulting in confirmation of his existence and remembering all the memories she shared with him, releasing him from the Wild Hunt. Confirmation bias can have a detrimental effect to criminal proceedings, as demonstrated in the study carried out by the authors of the academic journal, which is why it is so important to make criminal proceedings always as objective and fair as possible in order to achieve a just result. However, with the rise of the media and the constant and instantaneous stream of information available to the general public, and political influence, this is becoming much harder to achieve. The influence of the media and how we are fed information and how this manipulates our interpretation of events and information is something I would like to explore in this brief.

Natasha Perkin

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