A number of philosophers and psychologists stress the importance of disconfirmation in reasoning and suggest that people are instead prone to a general deleterious “confirmation bias.” In particular, it is suggested that people tend to test those cases that have the best chance of verifying current beliefs rather than those that have the best chance of falsifying them. We show, however, that many phenomena labeled “confirmation bias” are better understood in terms of a general positive test strategy. With this strategy, there is a tendency to test cases that are expected (or known) to have the property of interest rather than those expected (or known) to lack that property. We show that the positive test strategy can be a very good heuristic for determining the truth or falsity of a hypothesis under realistic conditions. It can, however, lead to systematic errors or inefficiencies.
Klayman, J., & Ha, Y.-w. (1987). Confirmation, disconfirmation, and information in hypothesis testing. Psychological Review, 94(2), 211-228.