Confirmation Bias For Sports Fans

Oct 19, 2015


NCAA football rankings are a great example of confirmation bias and the commitment and consistency effect.


If your team is ranked well and gets beaten by, or just squeaks by, a lower ranked opponent do you think "wow, I guess my team does suck"?

Almost never – instead you say "well, those are other guys played well and might even deserve to be ranked higher than they are, but it's no reflection on us".

But when your lower ranked team beats a higher ranked opponent it is completely different. Of course you are much better than they are! Of course you should just swap rankings!

Both cases involve confirmation bias – in this case the tendency to search interpret information in a way that confirms with existing beliefs or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning.

It also shows the issue with commitment and consistency. Humans like to be consistent with previously stated opinions (if not you risk being labelled a flip-flopper), and all too often will stick with a weak position rather than changing it.

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