People are prone to believe what they want to believe because our brains have a way of finding confirmation where it may not cease to exist. It is my goal to be able to find the relations in confirmation bias and the decision that was brought down by the main character in the story. Collectively as a reader, one learns that truth can be manufactured and altered through people’s tendency to search, interpret, favor and recall in a way that strengthens or confirms their own knowledge.
Published in 1837, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ by Hans Christian Andersen, is a fable that reflects the concept of confirmation bias in which the emperor believes he is above everybody else and adjusts his reality to fit his very own fundamental beliefs. In all things considered, the entire kingdom conforms to his idea because they are afraid to fall out of the emperor’s good grace even though he is completely blinded by his own fault of being wrong. Ironically enough, the emperor ends up walking through his procession naked, head still held high because he still believes in his own truth and yet even whilst being in the wrong he shows that his belief still holds more power and value than the beliefs of his people.
Confirmation bias plays an influential role in the final junctures of Anderson’s fairy tale. This story begins with one mans’ desire to be the best dressed ruler in all known kingdoms far and wide and ends with him ultimately walking down his own procession completely exposed. Questionably, we wonder why he even went through with his decision when he knew that his beliefs on the magical robe were presumed to be completely wrong. The cloth is claimed to only be seen by those deemed worthy, and throughout the story you realize that the beliefs of the emperor are rooted in the people that work for him and are living under his kingdom.
And despite no one being able to see his robe, they still concede to the idea and end up fooling themselves. The emperor still walks in his procession because it is his way of succumbing to confirmation bias. His belief is a show of ignorance and by embracing this, he is rejecting any doubts or opposing views that go against his. His ignorance however shows the power that he holds as a ruler because no one dares to go against his opposition. “-And all the people standing by, and those at the windows, cried out, ‘Oh! How beautiful are our emperor’s new clothes!’’
He continues on with his movements because to turn back would only mean that he’s admitting to his own gullibility and ignorance. As a ruler, he would much rather stand in nudity then acknowledge that he made a mistake. The folly of giving into his beliefs without question results in the truth from being susceptible. This ensues a domino effect in which the emperor and his courts are conned by the ‘weavers’ and leads the people of the kingdom to believe in their leader’s chauvinism without a doubt despite what meets their eyes.
Confirmation bias is universally prevalent in many aspects that deal with decision making and beliefs, so it is important to understand it. Although it starts off as his way to test who is unfit for their job he conventionally ends up parading around his kingdom with hidden humility by paying the price of walking naked with the lords of his bedchamber. Granted, the people working under the emperor also succumb to his beliefs because it’s easier to accept then to revolt. “-And pretended to be carrying something; for they would by no means betray anything like simplicity, or unfitness for their office.” The emperor denies that he made a mistake and continues forth with his decision because it confirms his ideology.
It’s easier as a reader to see that the emperor follows through with his plan simply because he can. Rather than conforming to the actual truth everyone believes in the collective lie even though they can see that the robe does not exist because confirmation bias makes it easier for them to succumb and adapt to what they already know. In the people’s case, they acclimate to what they were told.
The concept of confirmation bias is used and seen throughout the entirety of this fable. As a reader, one realizes that the world often deviates from the truth that’s available to them. Confirmation bias gives in to the matter of inconsistency between the beliefs that one holds or in the emperor’s case, his actions. Confirmation bias can easily be seen as a suppression towards decision making, because human beings generally don’t want to be in the wrong. His decision to continue on with the procession is an output of confirmation bias stemming from his own personal gains, value and pride. At the end of the day, the emperor didn’t gain anything from proceeding onwards in his nakedness, but at most he was still able to show his power by manipulating the beliefs of others.
Regardless of being called out, his decision to go on with his procession shows that his use of confirmation bias doesn’t change the fact that he still believes that he is above everyone else. His view entrenches the views of those that surround him and stops them from being open-minded. The emperor’s awareness leads him to resist the truth. Regardless of being wrong, his viewpoint doesn’t change the fact that his beliefs are still above the people and that is why he continues to walk.