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Kerschreiter, Rudolf; Schulz-Hardt, Stefan; Mojzisch, Andreas; Frey, Dieter (2008): Biased Information Search in Homogeneous Groups: Confidence as a Moderator for the Effect of Anticipated Task Requirements. In: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 34, Nr. 5: S. 679-691
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Abstract

When searching for information, groups that are homogeneous regarding their members’ prediscussion decision preferences show a strong bias for information that supports rather than conflicts with the prevailing opinion (confirmation bias). The present research examined whether homogeneous groups blindly search for information confirming their beliefs irrespective of the anticipated task or whether they are sensitive to the usefulness of new information for this forthcoming task. Results of three experiments show that task sensitivity depends on the groups’ confidence in the correctness of their decision: Moderately confident groups displayed a strong confirmation bias when they anticipated having to give reasons for their decision but showed a balanced information search or even a disconfirmation bias (i.e., predominately seeking conflicting information) when they anticipated having to refute unterarguments. In contrast, highly confident groups demonstrated a strong confirmation bias independent of the anticipated task requirements.