BiasTrust: teaching biased users about controversial topics


Vydiswaran, V.G.V.; Zhai, C.; Roth, D.; Pirolli, P. BiasTrust: teaching biased users about controversial topics. Proceedings of the 21st ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management; 2012 October 29 – November 2; Maui, HI. NY: ACM; 2012; 1905-1909.


Deciding whether a claim is true or false often requires understanding the evidence supporting and contradicting the claim. However, when learning about a controversial claim, human biases and viewpoints may affect which evidence documents are considered “trustworthy” or credible. It is important to overcome this bias and know both viewpoints to get a balanced perspective. In this paper, we study various factors that affect learning about the truthfulness of controversial claims. We designed a user study to understand the impact of these factors. Specifically, we studied the impact of presenting evidence with contrasting viewpoints and source expertise rating on how users accessed the evidence documents. This would help us optimize how to teach users about controversial topics in the most effective way, and to design better claim verification systems. We find that users do not seek contrasting viewpoints by themselves, but explicitly presenting contrasting evidence helps them get a well-rounded understanding of the topic. Furthermore, explicit knowledge of the source credibility and the context not only affects what users read, but also how credible they perceive the document to be.

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