In and Out of Home Care Decisions: The Influence of Confirmation Bias in Developing Decision Supportive Reasoning

David Hayes, Trevor Spratt, John Devaney

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review

Abstract

The research reported here is part of an international study in child protection decision-making. The aims of this study were to identify the factors Social Workers regard as important in supporting decisions to remove children from, or return them to, the care of their parents and to elicit the hypotheses underlying the interpretation of evidence in the decision-making process. The research was carried out in Northern Ireland with 202 Social Workers taking part. Data derived from respondents’ comments explaining their reasoning for in and out of home care decisions were analysed. 60.9% of respondent’s chose the ‘remain in parental care’ option at part one, with 94% choosing to have the child ‘remain in foster care’ at part two. Reasoning strategies used by Social Workers to support their decision-making suggest that they tend to selectively interpret information either positively or negatively to support pre-existing underlying hypotheses. This finding is in keeping with the literature on ‘confirmation bias’. The research draws attention to the need to incorporate open questions in quantitative studies, to help guard against surface reading of data, which often does not ‘speak for itself.’ Social Workers should endeavour to make their underlying hypotheses explicit in decision-making processes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event21st ISPCAN International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect - TELUS Convention Centre, Calgary, Canada
Duration: 28 Aug 201631 Aug 2016

Conference

Conference21st ISPCAN International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect
CountryCanada
CityCalgary
Period28/08/201631/08/2016

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