Decision-making biases and doctor error: Confirmatory bias by Prof Jill Klein

Posted on: July 25, 2019
Last Updated: July 25, 2019

Professor Jill Klein is an esteemed academic and award-winning author with more than 30 years of teaching experience. Her specialities are resilience, decision-making, and managerial judgement. She has taught senior executives and MBA students in top-tier business schools around the world, including Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, INSEAD, and Duke University. She teaches leadership for the Melbourne Medical School’s Master in Clinical Education programme at the University of Melbourne and is leading the design for a new specialist Certificate in Clinical Leadership programme. In addition, Jill has led workshops in the public health sector and pharmaceutical companies.  

Author Quotes:  

A big part of what PsychScene is about is getting people with completely different frames; immunologists, haematologists, and psychiatrists, working together to solve a problem of what’s going on with a patient. None of those alone with their own frame would have been able to do it.

We tend to interpret ambiguous information as confirmatory.

We give more weight and credibility to confirmatory information.

Summary and slides:  

Prof Klein starts off this segment of the presentation by discussing confirmatory bias and our preferences for information that agrees with our opinion. 

She moves on to the prevalence of confirmatory bias in medicine, and how the questions we ask of patients may encourage them to confirm and agree with us. 

Looking at remedies for confirmatory bias, Prof Klein ends this section of the presentation with a look at how to perform a ‘pre-mortem’ on our decisions to counteract our confirmatory bias. 

Take-Home Points:  

  • We need to invite opinions from others to come in and challenge our opinion. 
  • Overlapping symptomology in mental illness can result in affirmative answers from patients being interpreted wrongly to support your initial hypothesis. 
  • When writing up patient notes, we remember confirmatory information better. 
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