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Cass R. Sunstein

How 'Desirability Bias' Weakens Democracy

If you just believe what you want to believe, it's a problem.
A failure to communicate.

A failure to communicate.

Photographer: Jimmy Anderson/Getty Images

When people get new information – about immigration, about President Donald Trump, about climate change – will they change their minds?

It’s common to say that if they don’t, the reason is “confirmation bias," which means that people are far more likely to accept information that supports their current beliefs. But in some situations, what really matters is something different and even more insidious: “desirability bias.”