People supremely confident in their views

Aug. 4, 2010 at 1:31 AM
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COLUMBUS, Ohio, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- People with a strong opinion on an issue they say matters, who then learn most disagree, become doubly sure they are right, U.S. and Spanish researchers say.

Study co-author Richard Petty, a professor of psychology at Ohio State University; Pablo Brinol, a former postdoctoral fellow at Ohio State, and Javier Horcago, both at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in Spain; say people grow more confident in some beliefs when they find out a majority of people disagree with them.

"You actually become doubly sure you were right," Petty says in a statement.

In the study, undergraduate students in Spain were told they would be examining the organizational conditions of an unfamiliar international company where they might get an internship.

Participants were given either a strong argument -- workers reported high satisfaction because of the flexibility of their work schedules -- or a weak argument, that the company's logo was very attractive.

After the students developed their views -- positive or negative views of the company -- half of the students were told that 86 percent of their fellow students supported the company, while the other half were told 14 percent supported the company.

When asked to rate how confident they were in the positive or negative thoughts about the company, students who had a negative view of the company because of the weak arguments presented were actually more confident in their belief when they learned the majority of their fellow students disagreed with them.

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