Confirmation bias in sequential information search after preliminary decisions: an expansion of dissonance theoretical research on selective exposure to information

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2001 Apr;80(4):557-71. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.80.4.557.


Research on selective exposure to information consistently shows that, after having made a decision, people prefer supporting over conflicting information. However, in all of these experiments participants were given an overview of all available pieces of information, selected them simultaneously, and did not process the requested information during the selection phase. In the present research the authors show that an even stronger preference for supporting information arises if information is presented and processed sequentially instead of simultaneously (Experiment 1), and they demonstrate that this stronger confirmation bias is due to sequential presentation and not to sequential processing of information (Experiment 2). The authors provide evidence that the increase in confirmation bias under sequential presentation is caused by heightened commitment due to the participants' increased focusing on their decision (Experiments 3 and 4).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prejudice*
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Random Allocation