Every day, our brains outsource hundreds of decisions to our subconscious, which uses mental shortcuts to get us to an answer fast. Understanding these shortcuts and the biases that we may fall prey to can shed light on all sorts of decisions we make, from the car we drive to where we live to how we choose our healthcare treatments.


One such bias that impacts decision-making is confirmation bias, a tendency to search for and interpret information in a manner that confirms established beliefs. In 2001, the University of Bordeaux conducted an experiment on confirmation bias in a class of future wine-makers. The students were asked to rate two different bottles of red wine, one labeled as cheap and the other as expensive. Cheap wine actually was placed in both bottles, but the average student described the cheap wine in the expensive bottle as “complex and rounded” while describing the same wine in the cheap bottle as “weak and flat.”


With a similar experimental setup in mind, we recently ran a study that identified dozens of unconscious biases that could impact patients’ treatment decisions, specifically to find improved methods for maximizing non-insulin injection treatment adoption among Type 2 diabetes patients. If pharmaceutical marketers and healthcare providers better understand the impact of such biases, there’s an opportunity to bring new solutions to the market that increase patients’ likelihood to accept treatment changes, comply with their care plans, or use more support services. For marketers, understanding unconscious biases helps with message optimization, patient support program design and implementation, and direct-to-consumer promotional materials. Overall, uncovering and understanding unconscious biases will result in improved communication between healthcare providers, pharma marketers and patients, and could even improve patient outcomes.


For more on the role of unconscious biases in patient decision-making—and the full findings and analysis from the study—check out our latest white paper, “Behavioral Insights for a Hungry Healthcare Market.”