Wisdom of crowds questioned?
|August 8, 2013||Posted by News under News, Psychology|
Holy crowdsourcing! This just in from Science:
Sometimes the crowd really is wiser than you. The classic examples are guessing the weight of a bull or the number of gumballs in a jar. Your guess is probably going to be far from the mark, whereas the average of many people’s choices is remarkably close to the true number.
At least when it comes to comments on news sites, the crowd is more herdlike than wise. Comments that received fake positive votes from the researchers were 32% more likely to receive more positive votes compared with a control, the team reports online today in Science. And those comments were no more likely than the control to be down-voted by the next viewer to see them. By the end of the study, positively manipulated comments got an overall boost of about 25%. However, the same did not hold true for negative manipulation. The ratings of comments that got a fake down vote were usually negated by an up vote by the next user to see them.
“Our experiment does not reveal the psychology behind people’s decisions,” Aral says, “but an intuitive explanation is that people are more skeptical of negative social influence. They’re more willing to go along with positive opinions from other people.”
A lot probably depends on how much the commenter is personally invested in the positive or negative opinion. People may defend a trashed film they have never seen, out of pity, but rush to add their disapproval to a proposal to raise local road tolls, regardless of the rationale.
File under: Like Grandma said, it’s your life, so you need your own supply of good judgement. There is no real way of outsourcing good judgment over the long term. Just more sophisticated levels of self-deception.