START Conference Manager    

ASIST 2012 Annual Meeting 
Baltimore, MD, October 26-30, 2012 


Unbiased Learning of Controversial Topics
V.G.Vinod Vydiswaran, ChengXiang Zhai, Dan Roth and Peter Pirolli

Monday, 6:30pm


Summary

When presented with many relevant documents about a controversial topic, humans do not always read them all. Instead, they tend to follow and agree with articles and sources that hold similar viewpoints as theirs, a phenomenon known among psychologists as confirmation bias. This suggests that when learning about a controversial topic, human biases and viewpoints about the topic may affect what is considered "trustworthy" or credible. However, it is important to overcome this bias and know both viewpoints to get a balanced perspective. We designed a user study to understand various factors that affect learning about the truthfulness of controversial claims. In this paper, we study the impact of presenting documents with 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.