Selective distortion

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Selective distortion is a term that refers to the tendency of people to interpret information in a way that will support what they already believe. This concept, along with selective attention and selective retention, makes it hard for marketers to get their message across and create good product perception.[citation needed]

The selectivity hypothesis states that when a preference for a certain outcome exists, people will selectively distort evaluations of ambiguous, rather than unambiguous information in order to arrive at a conclusion that is preferred by the judge, but also easily justified as being fairly derived.


“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are”. –Analis Nin—Directly associated with this type of behavior is the analogy of the, “Island of the Known,” which is introduced in The Power of Belief a book by author Ray Dodd. In the third chapter he expands on this concept saying “This island is bolstered by our description of everything…This constant stream of words in our head is continually telling us what we know.” He explains that everything that has happened to us as humans has a direct effect on who we are, how we act, and what we believe (Dodd 23). Very similar to Erik Erikson’s theory about the 8 Stages of Psycho-Social Child development. Since the human mind enjoys filling in the blanks in the areas where there are questions that need to be answered, we answer those questions according to any and every similarity a new thing has to what we already know. Through our personalized mental file folders we have our truths and often these truth can only be true to us.( Dodd 26) [2]


In an age dominated by the influence of a variety of media sources, such as television, social networking and the internet, much of the information placed into people’s purview is highly subjective and influenced by the inevitable bias of the disseminating source. Our social condition revolves around technology today.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Munro, Geoffrey D; Terell P. Lasaneand Scott P. Leary (2010). "Political Partisan Prejudice: Selective Distortion and Weighting of Evaluative Categories in College Admissions Applications.". Journal of Applied Social Psychology: 2434–462. 
  2. ^ Dodd, Ray (2003). The Power of Belief: Essential Tools for an Extraordinary Life. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing. 
  3. ^ Erikson, Erik. "Erikson's Theory of Psychosocial Development.". Psychology.