This is the tendency to process information by looking for, or interpreting, information that is consistent with one’s existing beliefs. This biased approach to decision making is largely unintentional and often results in ignoring inconsistent information. Existing beliefs can include one’s expectations in a given situation and predictions about a particular outcome. People are especially likely to process information to support their own beliefs when the issue is highly important or self-relevant.
The tendency to cherry-pick information that confirms existing beliefs or ideas explains why two people with opposing views on a topic can see the same evidence and come away feeling validated by it. This cognitive bias is most pronounced in the case of ingrained, ideological, or emotionally charged views.
Failing to interpret information in an unbiased way can lead to serious misjudgments. By understanding this, we can learn to identify it in ourselves and others. We can be cautious of data that seems to immediately support our views.