But now these discussions at the dinner table, bar or office might be less annoying. A new University of Michigan study indicates what many people suspect: these know-it-all people are especially prone to overestimating what they actually know.
Even after getting feedback showing them how much they didn't know relevant political facts, these people still claimed that their beliefs were objectively more correct than everyone else's. On top of that, they were more likely to seek out new information in biased ways that confirm their sense of superiority.
Belief-superior people were significantly more likely than their modest peers to choose information that supported their beliefs. Furthermore, they were aware that they were seeking out biased information: when the researchers asked them what type of articles they had chosen, they readily admitted their bias for articles that supported their own beliefs.
"We thought that if belief-superior people showed a tendency to seek out a balanced set of information, they might be able to claim that they arrived at their belief superiority through reasoned, critical thinking about both sides of the issue," said Michael Hall, a psychology graduate student and the study's lead author.
Instead, researchers found that these individuals strongly preferred information that supported their views, indicating that they were probably missing out on opportunities to improve their knowledge.
So why do people seem to shun opposing viewpoints? Researchers suggest that while some people insist that they are always right, all of us feel good when the beliefs we think are important are confirmed.
Read the full article at Michigan News.