Spontaneous Preference for their Own Theories (SPOT effect) [SPOC?]

The SPOT Effect: People Spontaneously Prefer their Own Theories by Aiden P. Gregga, Nikhila Mahadevana, and Constantine Sedikidesa.


People often exhibit confirmation bias: they process information bearing on the truth of their theories in a way that facilitates their continuing to regard those theories as true. Here, we tested whether confirmation bias would emerge even under the most minimal of conditions. Specifically, we tested whether drawing a nominal link between the self and a theory would suffice to bias people towards regarding that theory as true. If, all else equal, people regard the self as good (i.e., engage in self-enhancement), and good theories are true (in accord with their intended function), then people should regard their own theories as true; otherwise put, they should manifest a Spontaneous Preference for their Own Theories (i.e., a SPOT effect). In three experiments, participants were introduced to a theory about which of two imaginary alien species preyed upon the other. Participants then considered in turn several items of evidence bearing on the theory, and each time evaluated the likelihood that the theory was true versus false. As hypothesized, participants regarded the theory as more likely to be true when it was arbitrarily ascribed to them as opposed to an β€œAlex” (Experiment 1) or to no one (Experiment 2). We also found that the SPOT effect failed to converge with four different indices of self-enhancement (Experiment 3), suggesting it may be distinctive in character.

I can’t give you the details on this article because it is fire-walled.

But the catch phrase, “Spontaneous Preference for their Own Theories (i.e., a SPOT effect)” certainly fits every discussion of semantics I have ever read or heard.

With a little funding you could prove the corollary, Spontaneous Preference for their Own Code (the SPOC effect) among programmers. πŸ˜‰

There are any number of formulations for how to fight confirmation bias but Jeremy Dean puts it this way:

The way to fight the confirmation bias is simple to state but hard to put into practice.

You have to try and think up and test out alternative hypothesis. Sounds easy, but it’s not in our nature. It’s no fun thinking about why we might be misguided or have been misinformed. It takes a bit of effort.

It’s distasteful reading a book which challenges our political beliefs, or considering criticisms of our favourite film or, even, accepting how different people choose to live their lives.

Trying to be just a little bit more open is part of the challenge that the confirmation bias sets us. Can we entertain those doubts for just a little longer? Can we even let the facts sway us and perform that most fantastical of feats: changing our minds?

I wonder if that includes imagining using JSON? (shudder) πŸ˜‰

Hard to do, particularly when we are talking about semantics and what we “know” to be the best practices.

Examples of trying to escape the confirmation bias trap and the results?

Perhaps we can encourage each other.

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