The current experiment investigated whether counter-attitudinal information can alter a pre-existing attitude and the accompanying confirmation bias. Sixty-three non-clinical children (9–12 years) were shown pictures of a positive animal (quokka) or a dangerous-looking animal (aye aye). For both animals attitudes and information seeking patterns were obtained. Next, they received counter-attitudinal information of each animal; attitudes and seeking patterns were reassessed. We found that the aye aye was perceived as more dangerous and less kind compared to the quokka. A negative confirmation bias was observed for the aye aye, more negative than positive or neutral information was requested. For the quokka this pattern was absent, more positive and negative than neutral information was selected. The counter-attitudinal information decreased the scariness of the aye aye, but did marginally alter that of the quokka. Additionally, for the aye aye counter-attitudinal information increased search for positive and neutral information and decreased search for negative information. For the quokka the counter-attitudinal information only increased search for neutral information. The animals no longer differed from each other and no clear confirmation bias patterns were present. These results indicate that it is possible to change pre-existing values and their accompanying information search patterns.
- Confirmation bias
- Counter-attitudinal information
- Information seeking