Unbiased learning of controversial topics


Vydiswaran, V.; Zhai, C.; Roth, D.; Pirolli, P. Unbiased learning of controversial topics. Proceedings of the 75th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science & Technology (ASIST); 2012 October 26-30; Baltimore MD.


When presented with many relevant documents about a controversial topic, humans do not always read and trust them uniformly. Instead, they tend to follow and agree with articles and sources that hold similar viewpoints as theirs, a phenomenon known as confirmation bias. This suggests that when acquiring additional knowledge about a controversial topic, human biases and viewpoints about the topic may affect what information is considered trustworthy. We designed a user study to analyze various factors that may help in learning about a controversial topic without bias. In this paper, we study the impact of presenting contrasting viewpoints on learning about controversial claims. Our analysis shows that exposing subjects to contrasting viewpoints helped them learn more efficiently and reduce strongly-held biases.

Read more from SRI