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Psychol Bull. 2009 Jul;135(4):555-88. doi: 10.1037/a0015701.

Feeling validated versus being correct: a meta-analysis of selective exposure to information.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.


A meta-analysis assessed whether exposure to information is guided by defense or accuracy motives. The studies examined information preferences in relation to attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors in situations that provided choices between congenial information, which supported participants' pre-existing attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors, and uncongenial information, which challenged these tendencies. Analyses indicated a moderate preference for congenial over uncongenial information (d=0.36). As predicted, this congeniality bias was moderated by variables that affect the strength of participants' defense motivation and accuracy motivation. In support of the importance of defense motivation, the congeniality bias was weaker when participants' attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors were supported prior to information selection; when participants' attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors were not relevant to their values or not held with conviction; when the available information was low in quality; when participants' closed-mindedness was low; and when their confidence in the attitude, belief, or behavior was high. In support of the importance of accuracy motivation, an uncongeniality bias emerged when uncongenial information was relevant to accomplishing a current goal.

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