Confirmation Bias

by | Jan 20, 2023 | Helpful Tips

Confirmation Bias

Imagine this…you’re running into the corner coffee shop to pick up a coffee on your way to work. You meet a stranger at random only to discover they went to the same university. Within minutes you find yourself reminiscing about places you both remember and are chatting like you’ve known the guy for years. You don’t know anything about the person, but you like him already. Enter confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias is an extremely common occurrence and something we all do without even being aware. Whether that be when we review an application, conduct an interview, or even a social situation. We like people who are like us. We give them the benefit of the doubt more quickly than someone with whom we don’t agree. 

Recently, one of my tenant clients asked me to run a few checks on their newest tenant applicants. The landlord explained that the applicants had verbally disclosed his last few years had been hard, there had been a misdemeanor, but a screen wouldn’t reveal more than just a few hiccups. The landlord shared with me that he had survived some tough times himself and understood the guy’s predicament.  Based on the applicant’s explanation he didn’t expect a clean record but was fairly confident that the screen would reveal what the applicant had disclosed. 

Two days, two felonies and 16 accounts in collections later, what was supposed to be just a few “hiccups” was a ten-year concerning pattern of behavior. 

We all want to extend the same understanding as we’re given, especially to people to who we can relate. As much as that is human nature, so is the tendency to downplay the bad and highlight the good. It’s always beneficial to get a perspective or viewpoint from a potential employment candidate or tenant, but facts matter. Taking the extra step to either confirm or deny your suspicions is a wise practice.