The Backfire Effect and Its Prevention Strategies

Topic: Cognitive Psychology
Words: 542 Pages: 2

In rational reality, people are exposed to discrediting evidence that does not fit their worldview. In the perfect scenario, they adjust the obtained information to their beliefs, whereas in real life, the backfire effect takes place (McRaney, 2011). A cognitive bias affects individuals’ inability to accept new evidence and strengthen their original stance. The mechanism is the following: one has a shaped opinion about the topic, and when faced with conflicting evidence, their beliefs grow stronger (McRaney, 2011). Even though the backfire effect significantly impacts knowledge acquisition, it can be prevented if recognized timely.

The primary prevention strategy refers to obtaining a full picture of what is happening. Unless one is ready to see the whole situation, they are unlikely to fight the backfire bias. More precisely, it is vital to increase awareness of the phenomenon and not object the contradictory opinions. The article provides an example of two opposing views regarding the war in the newspaper, stating that each of them is an attempt to persuade a reader to take one side (McRaney, 2011). A conscious person should take into consideration opposing views in order to receive a potential solution or compromise. Searching for more contrasting evidence may lead to bias elimination as it would overlap the original ones and helps reveal the truth. Therefore, one cannot form a concrete belief unless all sides of an issue are covered.

What is more, it is helpful to dissipate the myths which impede real understanding. It is crucial to debunk them if one sees them presented as an argument against their belief. When explaining one’s point of view, an individual needs to strategically divide the myth into the core facts and the justification of how it leads to misconception. Once accomplished, it is indispensable that the opposing perspective is included in the interpretation to finally strengthen one’s beliefs. McRaney (2011) states that Americans tend to believe that Obama was not born in the United States even after they were offered his birth certificate. However, if those people could debunk all the facts of the issue, their beliefs could have changed. As a result, the myths should be investigated carefully so as not to mislead human consciousness.

Finally, individuals may resort to using different ways of presenting the information. A surveyor may provide details in oral or written forms so that people form their opinion based on what they hear. Nonetheless, it is not effective as the majority of the world’s population perceives the data in a visual format. Hence, offering graphical information with precise facts and numbers is logical. The presenter should provide non-confrontational ideas that can assist individuals in internalizing their ideas in a concise manner. In addition, such a technique can help them reach a conclusion on their own without undermining the existing beliefs.

In conclusion, the backfire effect is a kind of cognitive bias that leads to misconceptions in beliefs. It affects people’s worldviews, and by posing conflicting evidence, it assures them of their rectitude even more. Seeing a full picture, debunking the myths, and using visual aids are pivotal strategies to avoid this fallacy and broaden one’s mind. In general, a person needs to be conscious of the effect’s influence and try to prevent its occurrence in contradictory situations.


McRaney, D. (2011). The backfire effect. You Are Not So Smart.

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