Edoardo Baccini (University of Groningen): Myside bias, group discussion and truth-tracking

The my-side bias is a well-documented cognitive bias in the evaluation of arguments, in which reasoners in a discussion tend to overvalue arguments that confirm their prior beliefs, while undervaluing arguments that attack their prior beliefs. After explaining and motivating a Bayesian model of myside bias at the level of individual reasoning, this Bayesian model is implemented in an agent-based model of group discussion among myside-biased agents. The agent-based model is then used to perform a number of experiments with the objective to study whether the myside bias hinders or enhances the ability of groups to collectively track the truth, that is, to reach the correct answer to a given binary issue. An analysis of the results suggests the following: First, the truth-tracking ability of groups is neither helped nor hindered by myside bias, unless the strength of myside bias is differentially distributed across subgroups of discussants holding different beliefs. Second, small groups are more likely to track the truth than larger groups, suggesting that increasing group size has a detrimental effect on collective truth-tracking through discussion.

Back to overview >