Home Theories Selective perception

Selective perception

Reviewed by expert Scientifically proven

Selective perception is a cognitive bias that refers to the phenomenon where people tend to interpret information and stimuli in a way that confirms their existing beliefs or expectations while ignoring or discounting information that contradicts them. Simply put, our brains tend to focus on information that supports our preconceived notions while downplaying or even ignoring information that challenges them. This can result in a narrow and limited understanding of reality and can sometimes lead to incorrect or biased decisions. Understanding and leveraging this bias can be helpful in designing effective marketing strategies and creating user experiences that resonate with people's existing beliefs and preferences.

Table of contents:
  1. Types of Selective Perception
    1. Confirmation Bias
    2. Contrast Effect
    3. Choice-Supportive Bias
    4. Negativity Bias
  2. Strategies for Leveraging Selective Perception
    1. Create Clear Contrasts
    2. Use Emotion to Drive Conversion
    3. Highlight User Choices and Personalized Recommendations
    4. Manage User Expectations
  3. Conclusion

Certainly! Here's a 2000-word blog post on selective perception and its impact on website design.

Understanding Selective Perception and Its Impact on Website Design

Have you ever noticed how different people can experience the same situation in completely different ways? This is because humans possess a cognitive bias known as selective perception. Selective perception refers to the tendency of people to pay more attention to certain things based on their past experiences, beliefs, and expectations. This means that individuals will often ignore or distort information that does not align with their preconceptions, while simultaneously focusing on and interpreting information that confirms their beliefs.

In the context of website design, selective perception can have a significant impact on user experience, affecting everything from site navigation to the conversion rate. By understanding which cognitive biases are at play and how they influence user behavior, designers can create more effective websites that are tailored to the needs of their target audience.

Types of Selective Perception

There are several different types of selective perception that can influence how users interact with a website.

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is the tendency to look for information that confirms preexisting beliefs, while ignoring information that contradicts those beliefs. For example, if a user believes that a particular product is of high quality, they may seek out positive reviews that support this view and ignore negative reviews that suggest otherwise.

Confirmation bias can be especially problematic for website design, as users may seek out information that confirms their preconceived notions about a product or service and ignore valuable information that could lead to a more informed decision.

Contrast Effect

The contrast effect refers to the tendency of people to perceive things as different when they are presented in close proximity to one another. This means that users can be heavily influenced by the context in which information is presented.

For example, if a user is presented with two similar products side by side, they may perceive the product with slightly better features as much better than it actually is, simply because it is being compared to a lesser product.

Designers can use this bias to their advantage by presenting products or services in the context of more expensive or advanced options, making them more appealing to users.

Choice-Supportive Bias

Choice-supportive bias is the tendency to value options more highly simply because they have been chosen. This means that users may be more likely to view a product or service positively if they have chosen it over other options, even if those options may be objectively better.

Designers can use this bias to increase user satisfaction and loyalty by highlighting the choices they have made, such as through personalized recommendations or user-specific product suggestions.

Negativity Bias

Negativity bias refers to the tendency of people to give more weight to negative information than positive information. This means that users may be more likely to remember negative experiences with a website, even if those experiences are outweighed by positive interactions.

Designers must be mindful of this bias to avoid negative experiences that can hurt conversion rates and damage user perception of a brand.

Strategies for Leveraging Selective Perception

By understanding how cognitive biases impact user behavior, designers can modify their websites to more effectively influence user perception and decision-making. Here are a few strategies for leveraging selective perception in website design.

Create Clear Contrasts

To take advantage of the contrast effect, designers should create clear visual distinctions between similar products or services. This can be accomplished through clear product descriptions, detailed images, and well-organized product pages that emphasize differences between options.

Use Emotion to Drive Conversion

Emotion can be a powerful tool for motivating user action. By leveraging emotions such as fear, excitement, or desire, designers can increase the perceived value of a product or service and encourage conversions. For example, a travel website might use images of exotic destinations to stir feelings of wanderlust and encourage users to book a trip.

Highlight User Choices and Personalized Recommendations

Incorporating personalized recommendations and highlighting user choices can help to promote choice-supportive bias. Users are more likely to view a product or service positively if they feel that their choices have been validated, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty.

Manage User Expectations

Understanding user expectations and meeting them effectively is key to creating positive user experiences. Sites should clearly describe products or services, provide images that accurately represent the item, and set appropriate user expectations for delivery times and customer service.

Designers should also take steps to manage negative reviews and feedback, using them as opportunities for service recovery rather than allowing them to damage user perception of the brand.


Selective perception is a powerful cognitive bias that can influence user behavior in countless ways. By taking advantage of this bias through strategic website design, designers can increase user satisfaction, drive conversions, and create more effective digital experiences. By understanding how selective perception works and which specific types of biases are most relevant to their audience, designers can create tailored solutions that truly resonate with users.

A new cognitive bias in your inbox every week

You'll get to learn more about CRO and psychology. You'll be able to take experimenting to a whole new level!

* We send our mails on Monday morning btw.

Will you use psychology for your experimentation process?

Are you curious about how to apply this bias in experimentation? We've got that information available for you!

Join over 452+ users

  • Lifetime access to all biases
  • Filter on metrics, page type, implementation effort
  • More examples and code for experimentation

Choose your subscription!

Pay with Stripe

Lifetime deal PREMIUM

Get access to the search engine, filter page, and future features.

I want this

Lifetime deal

Get access to the search engine and filter page.

I want this

Do you think you know enough about CRO?

Join our monthly mailing to continue learning more and more about CRO and psychology.