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What are the effects of ‘Selective Listening’ and ‘Confirmation Bias’ on Decision Making?

Not paying attention properly is only human. Similarly, involuntary is agreeing or empathizing with the already known facts and beliefs. Yet such responses have a major impact in bigger life situations. The latter is effected by Selective Listening and the former by Confirmation Bias.


While we make decisions all through the day, be it small or big, it takes significant time, effort, and energy in taking wise decisions. Compared with individual decisions, team decisions make the effort multi-fold due to the involvement of multiple mindsets in the overall process. So, after spending so much effort, what if the conclusion is not even proper? What if you have to repeat the entire process?


Decisions made for a team play a major role in the growth. Starting from decision making in a task to team level annual plans, decision and strategy need to be laid out very well, since everything is reflected in the execution.


When the decision-making process involves multiple members, different thoughts and different perspectives come into play. Sometimes, the team members’ nature of taking decisions that give undue advantage to themselves become prominent. As a result, discussions become argumentative and everyone tries to favor their thought processes.


What defines Selective Listening and Confirmation Bias?

In order to ensure their arguments win, most of us unknowingly use the strategies, what we call - ‘Selective Listening’ and ‘Confirmation Bias’. Know them yet? Selective Listening- It is a phenomenon where we selectively see or listen to what we want to see or listen to. In this process, we oversee the points that are not in favor of our thoughts. Confirmation Bias- It is a phenomenon where we favor those points or the people who make those points that confirm our own beliefs.

Both these phenomena help us in winning the arguments and change the decisions in our favor. Further, the situation aggravates if the discussion’s moderator also behaves similarly.


Example of Selective Listening:

  • Focusing on points (from others) that support your own ideas in a discussion.

Example of Confirmation Bias:

  • Putting forward only positive reviews of a product in front of everyone, Even though you have received positive and negative reviews, just because you also like the product.

Effect of Selective Listening and Confirmation Bias

  • The overall decisions taken will not be in the right direction.

  • While the competent employees are not favored, it can give undue advantage to the employees who exploit others

  • The execution will not be smooth and may require re-iterations leading to loss of effort and time

  • Another major effect will be feedback time, where we as junior or senior need to check all sides and then present our respective cases.

  • Increases the dissatisfaction of employees in the long run, sometimes, leading to employees' exit too.

Selective listening and confirmation bias are as prevalent in corporates as in real life, it's just we feel the impact prominently in the offices as there are money and real effort involved. Thus, there is a need to bring awareness to this aspect and see how this can be mitigated.


Ever encounter and/ or realize a situation like that? Question Yourself. Relate. Improve


If you have already experienced one, tell us in the comments below.


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