There are also many ways that bias can affect the analysis of information (Heuer, 1999) but, for the intelligence analyst, combating confirmation bias is one of the greatest challenges. Confirmation bias is the selective use of information to support what we already believe, ignoring information that would disconfirm the belief. Examples of tendencies most humans share that contribute to confirmation bias are:

  • humans tend to perceive what they expect to perceive and, as a consequence, valuable experience and expertise can sometimes work against an analyst when facing new or unexpected information or situations;
  • mind-sets are quick to form but resistant to change, leading analysts to persist with a hypothesis in the face of growing disconfirming evidence; and
  • well-established thinking patterns are difficult to change, leading to difficulties in viewing problems from different perspectives or understanding other points of view.


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