"Myside" biases and motivation in the production, consumption, and dissemination of science

Brent Strickland (Institut Jean Nicod)

September 11, 2020, 11:30–12:30


Room Zoom Meeting


Science produces reliable information that can have a direct and positive impact on our daily lives. For its positives however, it is also no secret that scientific practice and how we use its insights are far from perfect, and sometimes deeply flawed. The current talk examines one particularly salient source of systematic error: "Myside" biases and motivations. These refer to a deep seated and universal human tendency to preferentially seek out and evaluate information which supports one’s desires, pre-existing beliefs, or ideological camp. Across a range of behavioral experiments and computational models I show how myside biases and motivations systematically influence the production, consumption and dissemination of science. One of the surprising lessons that comes out of this work is that bias is not always bad. It can also produce benefits when considered at an organizational or societal scale. For example, while groups with a higher degree of myside bias are more error prone (clearly bad), they are also faster to make decisions. A better understanding of the tradeoffs associated with bias can help to better anticipate and evaluate the consequences of changes to incentive structures or procedures shaping scientific practice, and can contribute to improved public interaction with the scientific content.

Brent is a CNRS researcher at the Institute Jean Nicod/Ecole Normale Supérieure. He is co-founder of the UM6P School of Collective Intelligence.

Brent Strickland's homepage


Brent Strickland (Institut Jean Nicod), "Myside" biases and motivation in the production, consumption, and dissemination of science, IAST General Seminar, Toulouse: IAST, September 11, 2020, 11:30–12:30, room Zoom Meeting.