Confirmation bias refers to the tendency to seek out and give undue credibility to information that supports a desired conclusion. Due to confirmation bias, a party may unduly discredit contradictory information to the desired conclusion, or incorrectly believe it to reinforce a minority viewpoint at best. Confirmation bias is similar to the concept of biased assimilation.
In the courtroom, the human tendency towards confirmation bias is both an asset and an obstacle to overcome. An attorney who can sway the jury one way or another at the beginning of a trial through their opening statement can take advantage of confirmation bias to bolster the persuasive power of the evidence they introduce. On the other hand, an attorney tasked with persuading a jury who initially desires the opposing conclusion will likely need to utilize evidence that’s more persuasive than usual to prevail.
[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]