Strategies for Countering Confirmation Bias

Complicating the Narratives Toolkit

Course Content


  • Use graphics to show and not just tell factual information, which may be hard for people to process or accept.
  • Host regular, inclusive convenings virtually or in-person to discuss a complicated or divisive issue in the community. NOTE: This must be done with care to not prevent further divides. Encouraging people to listen with the intent to understand and to ask curious questions, are ways to keep them open to hearing about viewpoints that differ from their own.
  • Provide specific actions that your audience can take to help address an issue.
  • Expose your audience to sources from a wide range of viewpoints.


Ask your sources questions that can open them up to consider perspectives and viewpoints counter to their own. Try these Five Questions to Counter Confirmation Bias from Gary Friedman, Co-Founder of The Center for Understanding in Conflict:

  • Could you imagine any other way of seeing this other than the way you see it?
  • What gives you such confidence that you have an accurate view of things, that you’re right?
  • There must be something really important to you that leaves you so convinced that the way you see it is right, can we talk about that?
  • What do you understand the other arguments to be? So, what’s the argument that you disagree with?
  • What are you afraid would happen if, in fact, you tried on this possibility that there’s another way of seeing things?


  • Take the time to self-reflect and acknowledge how your biases may show up in a story that you’re covering.
  • (CTN Bias Check Exercise.) Think about a polarizing issue that you plan to cover. Ask yourself the following questions: What parts of my background will help my reporting on this story? What parts of my background may make me prone to confirmation bias? What steps will I take to resolve this?
  • Remember your background comprises your religion, age, gender, language, ethnicity, marital status, etc.
  • Use empathy to open yourself up to a source’s story, in particular if it’s a source you personally disagree with or an issue you have strong feelings about.