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In psych class, I recall learning about a cognitive bias where people are inclined to use all information available to them when making a decision, even if some of the information would be better ignored.

I believe the example given was a study in which participants were asked to evaluate the (college?) application of a candidate. Some participants were given just the conventional application information, while others were additionally given irrelevant information in the form of a portfolio of the candidate's elementary school artwork. The finding was that the artwork influenced the participant's decisions when it was provided.

What I don't remember is what this bias is called!

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It's probably related to information overload "the difficulty in understanding an issue and effectively making decisions when one has too much information about that issue". As for a more specific term...

In the full text of https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327663jcp1403_7 it's called the irrelevant attribute effect. I'm not sure how widespread this term is. Therein it's defined as the scenario when

irrelevant information may influence choice even when there is an easily justified basis for choice other than the irrelevant attribute.

There are a lot papers out there on how irrelevant information affects choice, but most don't seem to use this precise term but some reasonably close expression.

There's even one paper which discussed a sub-form of this, namely the dilution effect, which

occurs when a person’s consideration of irrelevant information leads to a less extreme judgment.

Even though it's narrower in meaning, this last term is more widespread.

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Information bias is a cognitive bias to seek information when it does not affect action. People can often make better predictions or choices with less information: more information is not always better. An example of information bias is believing that the more information that can be acquired to make a decision, the better, even if that extra information is irrelevant for the decision.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_bias_(psychology)

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  • $\begingroup$ I had found that one but wasn't sure if it was different. From the article it sounds like the primary irrationality in information bias is paying a cost to seek unhelpful information, as opposed to trying to incorporate said information into your decision. Related, but I'm not sure it's the same. Also possible that my memory is wrong :-) $\endgroup$ – ChaseMedallion Apr 21 at 0:37

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