Believe and See...
Cognitive psychologists use the term “confirmation bias” to refer to the tendency that humans have to seek out information that confirms what they believe rather than information that may disprove what they believe. For example, if I believe that blondes have more fun, then every time I meet a blonde that is fun-loving I will store away that information as confirmation of my theory. And every time I meet a blonde that does not fit that profile, I will either ignore that information or attempt to reframe her behavior in order to make her fit my preconceived idea. That is confirmation bias.
It can clearly be a disadvantage to critical thinking.
It can lead us away from creativity and down a path of narrow-mindedness.
But it could also be used to our advantage.
What if I have a confirmation bias that God is good and that His mercies toward me are new every morning? What if I was constantly looking for evidence of this belief and storing away that information in my mental “God is so good to me!” file? What might this do for my faith and, quite frankly, for my mental health?
I call this the “believe and see effect.”
When I believe that God is good, I am much more likely to see God’s goodness sprinkled throughout my day. When I believe that God is faithful, I am more likely to see His faithfulness toward me in every situation. When I believe, I tend to see.
David, the shepherd turned king, said something similar:
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living! (Psalm 27:13)
He believed he would see.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I operate with a confirmation bias that sounds a little like Winne the Pooh’s friend Eyore: Today is probably going to be terrible. This won’t work at all. God doesn’t care about little ol’ me. And then, shockingly, I have a terrible day. Surprise, surprise, surprise.
But when I activate my belief by looking for God’s goodness and faithfulness, I am often surprised by what I see.
So, how about you? Are you willing to give it a try? Willing to test the “believe and see effect”? I’d love to hear what you see as a result.