J. Med. Internet Res. - Confirmation bias in web-based search: a randomized online study on the effects of expert information and social tags on information search and evaluation.


{ search(2224) databas(1162) retriev(909) }
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{ activ(1138) subject(705) human(624) }
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CKGROUND: The public typically believes psychotherapy to be more effective than pharmacotherapy for depression treatments. This is not consistent with current scientific evidence, which shows that both types of treatment are about equally effective.OBJECTIVE: The study investigates whether this bias towards psychotherapy guides online information search and whether the bias can be reduced by explicitly providing expert information (in a blog entry) and by providing tag clouds that implicitly reveal experts' evaluations.METHODS: A total of 174 participants completed a fully automated Web-based study after we invited them via mailing lists. First, participants read two blog posts by experts that either challenged or supported the bias towards psychotherapy. Subsequently, participants searched for information about depression treatment in an online environment that provided more experts' blog posts about the effectiveness of treatments based on alleged research findings. These blogs were organized in a tag cloud; both psychotherapy tags and pharmacotherapy tags were popular. We measured tag and blog post selection, efficacy ratings of the presented treatments, and participants' treatment recommendation after information search.RESULTS: Participants demonstrated a clear bias towards psychotherapy (mean 4.53, SD 1.99) compared to pharmacotherapy (mean 2.73, SD 2.41; t173=7.67, P<.001, d=0.81) when rating treatment efficacy prior to the experiment. Accordingly, participants exhibited biased information search and evaluation. This bias was significantly reduced, however, when participants were exposed to tag clouds with challenging popular tags. Participants facing popular tags challenging their bias (n=61) showed significantly less biased tag selection (F2,168=10.61, P<.001, partial eta squared=0.112), blog post selection (F2,168=6.55, P=.002, partial eta squared=0.072), and treatment efficacy ratings (F2,168=8.48, P<.001, partial eta squared=0.092), compared to bias-supporting tag clouds (n=56) and balanced tag clouds (n=57). Challenging (n=93) explicit expert information as presented in blog posts, compared to supporting expert information (n=81), decreased the bias in information search with regard to blog post selection (F1,168=4.32, P=.04, partial eta squared=0.025). No significant effects were found for treatment recommendation (Ps>.33).CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that the psychotherapy bias is most effectively attenuated-and even eliminated-when popular tags implicitly point to blog posts that challenge the widespread view. Explicit expert information (in a blog entry) was less successful in reducing biased information search and evaluation. Since tag clouds have the potential to counter biased information processing, we recommend their insertion.

Resumo Limpo

ckground public typic believ psychotherapi effect pharmacotherapi depress treatment consist current scientif evid show type treatment equal effectiveobject studi investig whether bias toward psychotherapi guid onlin inform search whether bias can reduc explicit provid expert inform blog entri provid tag cloud implicit reveal expert evaluationsmethod total particip complet fulli autom webbas studi invit via mail list first particip read two blog post expert either challeng support bias toward psychotherapi subsequ particip search inform depress treatment onlin environ provid expert blog post effect treatment base alleg research find blog organ tag cloud psychotherapi tag pharmacotherapi tag popular measur tag blog post select efficaci rate present treatment particip treatment recommend inform searchresult particip demonstr clear bias toward psychotherapi mean sd compar pharmacotherapi mean sd t p d rate treatment efficaci prior experi accord particip exhibit bias inform search evalu bias signific reduc howev particip expos tag cloud challeng popular tag particip face popular tag challeng bias n show signific less bias tag select f p partial eta squar blog post select f p partial eta squar treatment efficaci rate f p partial eta squar compar biassupport tag cloud n balanc tag cloud n challeng n explicit expert inform present blog post compar support expert inform n decreas bias inform search regard blog post select f p partial eta squar signific effect found treatment recommend psconclus conclud psychotherapi bias effect attenuatedand even eliminatedwhen popular tag implicit point blog post challeng widespread view explicit expert inform blog entri less success reduc bias inform search evalu sinc tag cloud potenti counter bias inform process recommend insert

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