Memory & Cognition

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 577–588 | Cite as

Increased sensitivity to differentially diagnostic answers using familiar materials: Implications for confirmation bias

  • Craig R. M. McKenzieEmail author


Researchers have recently pointed out that neither biased testing nor biased evaluation of hypotheses necessitatesconfirmation bias—defined here as systematic overconfidence in a focal hypothesis— but certain testing/evaluation combinations do. One such combination is (1) a tendency to ask about features that are either very likely or very unlikely under the focal hypothesis (extremity bias) and (2) a tendency to treat confirming and disconfirming answers as more similar in terms of their diagnosticity (or informativeness) than they really are. However, in previous research showing the second tendency, materials that are highly abstract and unfamiliar have been used. Two experiments demonstrated that using familiar materials led participants to distinguish much better between the differential diagnosticity of confirming and disconfirming answers. The conditions under which confirmation bias is a serious concern might be quite limited.


Confirmation Bias Focal Hypothesis Favored Hypothesis Familiar Material Concrete Group 
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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of California, San DiegoLa Jolla

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