Document (#38525)

Author
White, R.W.
Title
Belief dynamics in web search
Source
Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology. 65(2014) no.11, S.2165-2178
Year
2014
Abstract
People frequently answer consequential questions, such as those with a medical focus, using Internet search engines. Their primary goal is to revise or establish beliefs in one or more outcomes. Search engines are not designed to furnish answers, and instead provide results that may contain answers. Information retrieval research has targeted aspects of information access such as query formulation, relevance, and search success. However, there are important unanswered questions on how beliefs-and potential biases in those beliefs-affect search behaviors and how beliefs are shaped by searching. To understand belief dynamics, we focus on yes-no medical questions (e.g., "Is congestive heart failure a heart attack?"), with consensus answers from physicians. We show that (a) presearch beliefs are affected only slightly by searching and changes are likely to skew positive (yes); (b) presearch beliefs affect search behavior; (c) search engines can shift some beliefs by manipulating result rank and availability, but strongly-held beliefs are difficult to move using uncongenial information and can be counterproductive, and (d) search engines exhibit near-random answer accuracy. Our findings suggest that search engines should provide correct answers to searchers' questions and develop methods to persuade searchers to shift strongly held but factually incorrect beliefs.
Theme
Benutzerstudien

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