Belief Perseverance: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:02 Belief Perseverance
  • 1:12 Types
  • 2:25 Additional Examples
  • 4:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Did you know that there are three types of belief perseverance? Learn more about belief perseverance from examples. Then, test your knowledge with a quiz.

Belief Perseverance Defined

Mike is a 32-year-old engineer who is obsessed with conspiracy theories. Mike has a conversation with his friend Jim, in which Mike tells Jim that the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center were orchestrated by the United States government. Jim shows Mike several official government documents and independent research reports that concluded that the United States government was not responsible for the attacks. Mike brushes off Jim's evidence as false and made up by the government in order to cover its tracks. No matter what Jim says or what kind of evidence he provides, Mike refuses to believe that the United States government was not responsible for the attacks. This is an example of belief perseverance.

Belief perseverance is the tendency for people to hold their beliefs as true, even when there is ample evidence to discredit the belief. When faced with evidence that contradicts their beliefs, people may choose to discredit, dismiss, misinterpret, or place little significance on the contradictory information. For example, Mike chose to dismiss the evidence that Jim presented to him. As a result, this allowed Mike to hold on to his beliefs about the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Types of Belief Perseverance

According to research, there are at least three types of belief perseverance. Let's look at examples of each of the three types.

Naïve theories are your views about the world and how it operates. Examples of naïve theories include your beliefs about how criminals think or the causes of global conflicts and war. They also include any stereotyping beliefs you might have regarding people from different races, age groups, or genders. For example, Tom might believe that all welfare recipients are African American women, despite being presented with facts that show that the majority of welfare recipients are Caucasian.

Self-impressions are your beliefs about yourself. Examples of self-impressions include your beliefs about your intelligence, athletic ability, and personality. For example, Carrie might believe that she is a good skier despite the fact that she has never been able to ski for more than a few seconds before falling down.

Social impressions are your beliefs about other individuals. Examples of social impressions include your beliefs about your mother, your teacher, and your boss. For example, Bill might believe that his teacher dislikes him and is purposefully failing him. Bill believes this despite being presented with evidence that the teacher is quite fond of him and that Bill's answers to his tests have been mostly wrong.

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