Biased assimilation is the tendency to interpret information in a way that supports a desired conclusion. This tendency leads parties to place undue credibility on evidence that supports that conclusion while also unduly discounting information that contradicts it.
For example; due to biased assimilation, a party who already believes that one’s upbringing is more important to personality development than inherent biological traits might accept a study showing that childhood hugs lead to increased grades in school at face value - without checking the cited sources, research methodologies, the source of funding, or reviewing a study indicating that family life has little impact personality development.
In the field of law, biased assimilation is important to consider because it affects the credibility a party lends to any given evidence. For example, a jury member who harbors biases based on racial stereotypes might be more likely to find evidence of misconduct by a preponderance of the evidence/beyond a reasonable doubt if that evidence supports their pre-held beliefs.
Biased assimilation is similar to the concept of confirmation bias.
[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]