The desire to maintain current beliefs can lead individuals to evaluate contrary evidence more critically than consistent evidence. We test whether priming individuals’ scientific reasoning skills reduces this often-observed myside bias, when people evaluate scientific evidence about which they have prior positions. We conducted three experiments in which participants read a news-style article about a study that either supported or opposed their attitudes regarding the Affordable Care Act. We manipulated whether participants completed a test posing scientific reasoning problems before or after reading the article and evaluating the evidence that it reported. Consistent with previous research, we found that participants were biased in favor of evidence consistent with their prior attitudes regarding the Affordable Care Act. Priming individuals’ scientific reasoning skills reduced myside bias only when accompanied by direct instructions to apply those skills to the task at hand. We discuss the processes contributing to biased evaluation of scientific evidence.
- myside bias
- scientific communication
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Psychology (miscellaneous)