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To the Editor In their recent Viewpoint, Drs Shaw and Elger1 argued that persuasion plays an important role in communication with patients.
They proposed that it is appropriate for physicians to use persuasion when it reduces preexisting
biases but inappropriate when it creates bias. Although we also believe that persuasion is a
critical component of communication, we disagree with the assertion that bias necessarily adversely
affects the decisions made by patients and should therefore always be minimized. A large body of
research has demonstrated that biased strategies in some contexts, such as choosing the most easily
recognized option (recognition heuristic) or choosing based on one important attribute (take the
best heuristic), lead to better decisions than more systematic unbiased approaches.2
Powell AA, Partin MR. The Role of Persuasion. JAMA. 2013;310(6):646-647. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.8516