Abstract The Web is a perfect backdrop for opinion formation as a multitude of different opinions is publicly available. However, the different opinions often remain unexploited: Learners prefer preference-consistent over preference-inconsistent information, a phenomenon called confirmation bias. Two experiments were designed to test whether technologies such as recommender systems can be used to overcome this bias. The role of preference-inconsistent recommendations was explored by comparing their influence to a condition with preference-consistent recommendations and to a control condition without recommendations. In Study 1, preference-inconsistent recommendations led to a reduction of confirmation bias and to a more moderate view of the controversial topic of neuro-enhancement. In Study 2, we found that preference-inconsistent recommendations stimulated balanced recall and divergent thinking. Together these studies showed that preference-inconsistent recommendations are an effective approach for reducing confirmation bias and stimulating divergent thinking. In conclusion, future research and practical implications are discussed.