Culture and Postdecisional Confirmation Bias
Schaefer, Lindsay M.
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The present research explored cross-cultural differences in postdecisional confirmation bias. I hypothesized that, following a personal decision—one that entails consequences for the decision maker only, Euro-Canadians would be more likely to seek out confirmatory information than would Japanese, whereas following an interpersonal decision—one that entails consequences for those closest to the decision maker, Japanese would be more likely to do so than Euro-Canadians. In Study 1, Euro-Canadians and Japanese university students were randomly assigned to either the self or friend condition. Participants in the self and friend condition selected a movie for which they or their friend would ostensibly receive a free pass to see in theatres, respectively. After selecting a movie, participants were presented with a list of 12 movie reviews that either confirmed or disconfirmed their choice. Participants then indicated which of the reviews they wanted to read further. Study 2 employed the same paradigm as did Study 1 and also included a measure of participants’ information processing goals. For Study 1, the results of a series of one-sample t tests revealed that Euro-Canadians in the self condition exhibited confirmation bias as well as did those in the friend condition, albeit this latter trend was not significant. In contrast, Japanese in both conditions showed no preference for confirmatory or disconfirmatory information. For Study 2, Japanese continued to exhibit a balanced search. However, Euro-Canadians in the friend condition preferred confirmatory information, whereas Euro-Canadians in the self condition exhibited a slight, non-significant preference for disconfirmatory information. Regarding participants’ information processing goals, those in the friend condition were more concerned with affirming and convincing others of the correctness of their choice than were those in the self condition. Also, Euro-Canadians indicated that they were motivated to be accurate more than did Japanese. The present research indicates that Euro-Canadians and Japanese differ in terms of the decisions that they seek to confirm (albeit not in the predicted direction). Reasons for such discrepant findings and limits of the present research are discussed.