Cognitive Biases on Research Process
Cognitive bias can be defined as a problem in the way one thinks when processing information through subjective filters which are of our beliefs, experiences and attitudes hence, destroy the interpretation one has of reality (Thinda, 2009).
It is difficult to move away from the reality distortions as they impact the difficult job in measuring memory, human perception and experience. Cognitive bias could therefore spoil the results of a good research (Teng, 1999). Cognitive biases influence opinions and beliefs of both consumer and researcher. Avery common cognitive bias from researchers is the confirmation bias. This is the tendency to avoid information that could contradict the beliefs and attitudes of the consumer as well as tending to search for information which will confirm the preconceptions of the researcher. He or she will only favor the information that always supports what they expect and ignore the one that does not linger with their expectations.
This would make the researcher ask questions which will lead to a certain direction that he or she prefers. For example, if the researcher was once bullied in school, he or she would want a situation where all the information be in line with bullying in school and the bad memories. A method where the researcher is prone to confirmation bias is known as the expectancy effect. This is where the researcher will obtain results, which are predicted as tey had their expectations of their particular subjects to be in a certain manner (Thinda, 2009). In this case for example if one is looking at a case of bullying in school so as to identify whether it is the boys or girls who are prone to the bullying, then you have two people participating. A young lady and a man.
One may be biased to expect very different beliefs basing on the preconceived notions. The expectations of these two people could bring very different answers if our biased expectations are allowed in the stereotyping error. The researcher could expect that the young lady would talk of little or nom experience of bullying in school whereas the young man would be expected to talk a lot about being bullied in school and also bullying others who were behind him as revenge. One would be surprised to learn that the young lady has more experience of being a victim and also talks of how she also bullied others as a way of revenge for nobody was concerned with whatever happened to them during their school life. The teachers could not help; other students would just look at a person and then nod.
This would make someone feel very much humiliated and abandoned hence they could also have that anger and when new students report, they could do the same to them. The man would just talk of how they went to school and had a peaceful coexistence with their other colleagues and never at any time thought of bullying others. If the person doing research does not identify with the subjective feelings about the reseearch and information obtained from the participants, he or she would make assumptions basing on stereotypes, generalizations and discovering what they actually expected. The other cognitive bias, which can influence a researcher, is what is referred to as hindsight bias. This is where the researcher will talk of he or she knew all along about what to expect. It is experienced when events happen to be very much predictable as they are.
If a researcher has expectations with regard to the outcome of results, he or she would be unable to attain realistic appraisal from the beliefs of the participants. In the case of bullying in school for example, the researcher could tend to think that it is brought about by the teachers failing to do their duties of disciplining the students caught while this could not be the case (Hub pages, 2013). The problem could be with the states for example as they do not advocate for corporal punishment and a wise man once said spare the rod spoil the child. This may lead to the researcher ending up with inaccurate results as he or she tends to lock out important data as early as in the information-gathering period.In conclusion, therefore, it is very important for a researcher to be able to use the information obtained from the field or the one given by the participants without any biasness. This will lead to yield of better results that are accurate and reliable because they come from different people.