The relationship between visual confirmation bias, belief consistency, and belief polarization

Jennie Qu-Lee, Brina Seidel, Daphna Harel, Yael Granot, Emily Balcetis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Video evidence depicting physical altercations has polarized public opinions and courtroom decisions about social issues including race relations and police use-of-force, we believe, in part because of the way people process dynamic visual stimuli across repeated viewing opportunities. We reanalyzed two studies that covertly collected eye-tracking data to quantify and model visual confirmation bias (VCB)–the degree to which eye movements replicate previous patterns of looking across multiple viewing opportunities. We tracked the location of eye gaze when participants (N1  = 320; N2  = 212) watched the same video twice depicting an altercation between an officer and a civilian (Study 1) or a Black and a White actor (Study 2). In pilot tests, we provided evidence regarding the construct validity of statistical measures of concordance tracking similarities in where perceivers directed eye gaze across viewings as an index of VCB. In our pre-registered analytic plan, we used these metrics to probe for relationships with punishment decisions made about targets after the first and second viewings. Contrary to predictions, our pre-registered analyses found no associations between VCB, consistency, and polarization in punishment. We present exploratory analyses probing potential moderators of the association between VCB and these outcome measures. We offer practical suggestions for researchers measuring and modeling eye gaze during the presentation of dynamic stimuli across multiple viewings, particularly in the context of intergroup decision research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-38
JournalComprehensive Results in Social Psychology
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 2022


  • belief consistency
  • belief polarization
  • Confirmation bias
  • eye-tracking
  • gaze similarity
  • legal decisions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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