The valence of new information influences learning rates in humans: good news tends to receive more weight than bad news. We investigated this learning bias in four experiments, by systematically manipulating the source of required action (free versus forced choices), outcome contingencies (low versus high reward) and motor requirements (go versus no-go choices). Analysis of model-estimated learning rates showed that the confirmation bias in learning rates was specific to free choices, but was independent of outcome contingencies. The bias was also unaffected by the motor requirements, thus suggesting that it operates in the representational space of decisions, rather than motoric actions. Finally, model simulations revealed that learning rates estimated from the choice-confirmation model had the effect of maximizing performance across low- and high-reward environments. We therefore suggest that choice-confirmation bias may be adaptive for efficient learning of action–outcome contingencies, above and beyond fostering person-level dispositions such as self-esteem.