Book Now!

Confirmation bias is an umbrella term for cognitive distortions (or unhelpful ways of thinking) in which people focus on information, experiences, or events that prove their biased thoughts or opinions. 

For example, someone believes they are lazy and not intelligent, so they only focus on the times they receive low grades on assignments.

Types of Confirmation Bias

There are different ways that we engage in confirmation bias through various types of harmful thought styles. 

For many of us, these thought styles are so innate we may not even realize we’re engaging in these thought styles. These thought styles include: 

  • Mental filtering 
  • Disqualifying the positive 
  • Emotional reasoning

Mental Filtering

Mental filtering is a cognitive distortion in which the individual only pays attention to or focuses on certain types of information. 

Typically, the information that is focused on is information that supports whatever belief we are holding. 

This can look like noticing our failures and not noticing our successes.

Disqualifying the Positive

Disqualifying the positive happens when individuals discount the good or positive things that happen to them. 

This can look like attributing successes to random luck or discounting successes altogether. For example, someone who does well on an exam says that it was just an easy test.

Emotional Reasoning

Emotional reasoning is a cognitive distortion where the individual assumes that something must be true because they feel a certain way. 

For example, someone feels ashamed of their failures and believes they are failures.

Why Do People Engage In Confirmation Bias?

There are many reasons why someone might engage in confirmation bias. One of the most common reasons (or culprits) is core beliefs. 

Core beliefs are biased beliefs we hold about ourselves. They are often formed during our formative years and reinforced throughout life, so they often feel like a part of our identity. 

We engage in confirmation bias to protect against events that threaten our core beliefs.

How Do Confirmation Biases Affect Us?

Confirmation biases affect us by reinforcing a skewed perception of reality we might hold. Additionally, confirmation biases contribute to… 

  • Negative/Harmful core beliefs 
  • Black and White thinking 
  • Rigid thinking styles 
  • Low self-esteem 
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety

How Can We Challenge Confirmation Biases?

It can be hard to challenge confirmation biases, especially when we believe something to be true. In addition to therapy, here are some tips to overcome biased thinking: 

  • Become aware of when our beliefs might be skewed 
  • Use behavior chains to separate feelings from thoughts and behaviors 
  • Identify the evidence that might disprove your beliefs 
  • Develop neutral/balanced beliefs about yourself and the events you experience


While our physical offices are located in South Loop and Lakeview neighborhoods in Chicago, Illinois for in-person sessions, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more.  

This page is also part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.


While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.