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The Backfire Effect is when people reject information that challenges their beliefs and even become more convinced of their original stance. This happens even if the information is true. So, if you show someone evidence that they are wrong, they may actually become more stubborn in their beliefs. This is part of the confirmation bias, where people only accept information that confirms what they already believe. The backfire effect is like a defense mechanism that kicks in when information challenges our beliefs.
If you're trying to explain to someone the issues with their stance, you can mitigate the backfire effect by presenting new information in a way that encourages the other person to consider and internalize that information, instead of rejecting it outright. There are three ways to approach reducing the backfire effect on your website/digital property.
As mentioned earlier, when it comes to changing people's deeply held beliefs, logic and facts alone are often not enough. Instead, try to understand your visitors' emotions and design your website or webshop to appeal to those emotions. For instance, if your webshop sells eco-friendly products, you could use language and images that evoke a sense of care for the environment, and the well-being of future generations. By doing so, you are more likely to get your visitors to internalize your message, and potentially change their behavior.
Instead of overwhelming your visitors with too much information, be selective with what you present. Highlight the most important points and present them in a clear and concise way. For example, if you want to convince visitors to sign up for your newsletter, present the benefits of doing so in a short and engaging way, instead of bombarding them with long paragraphs of text.
People are more likely to believe in something when they see that others believe in it too. Use customer reviews and testimonials on your website or webshop to show that others have used and enjoyed your products or services. Make sure to include a mix of positive and negative reviews, as studies have shown that customers are more likely to trust reviews that include some negative feedback.
A/B testing is a way to test different variations of a website or webshop to see which one performs better. By using A/B testing, you can test different designs, messaging, and calls to action to see which ones resonate best with your visitors. This can help you to identify the most effective ways to reduce the backfire effect on your website or webshop.
The backfire effect shows us that you can't counter misinformation with logic, reason, and facts, even when your intentions are good. Your visitors will believe what they believe, and no objective facts will change their deeply held beliefs. Instead, try to understand them and design to appeal to their emotions. Use qualitative research if necessary. Figure out how visitors feel about spending online, work-life balance, or online marketing. Get to know their core beliefs before advancing your agenda.
Based on research showing that people tend to reject new information that challenges their beliefs, we believe that simplifying the language and visual design of our website, for visitors who hold strong opinions about a particular topic, will cause them to be more open to considering different viewpoints and ultimately lead to a decrease in the backfire effect. By presenting new information in a way that is easy to understand and visually appealing, we hope to encourage visitors to engage with our content without triggering their defenses.
Based on data showing that information overload can lead to decision paralysis, we believe that reducing the amount of information presented on our product pages, for visitors who are overwhelmed by too many product details, will cause them to be more likely to make a purchase and less likely to experience the backfire effect. By streamlining the information on our product pages and presenting only the most essential details, we hope to reduce the cognitive load on visitors and make it easier for them to make a decision.
Based on the insight that emotions play a large role in belief formation and decision-making, we believe that incorporating storytelling and personal anecdotes into our messaging, for visitors who have deeply held beliefs about a topic, will cause them to connect emotionally with our brand and be more receptive to considering alternative viewpoints, ultimately leading to a decrease in the backfire effect. By appealing to visitors' emotions rather than solely relying on logical arguments, we hope to create a more personal connection and open up the possibility for visitors to change their beliefs.
Would you like to go more in-depth? Here are our recommendations:
When people reject evidence that conflicts with their beliefs, and even defend them more strongly.
Present new information in a way that encourages others to consider it, not reject it. Also, try qualitative research to understand your audience.
No, facts and evidence often strengthen people's existing beliefs. Try appealing to emotions and designing to match core beliefs.
Yes, studies have shown it to be a widespread phenomenon that affects people across the political spectrum.
Look for signs of defensive behavior or closed-mindedness, such as dismissing opposing views without consideration or making ad hominem attacks.
Are you curious about how to apply this bias in experimentation? We've got that information available for you!