Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Learn why "social influence bias" affects crowd-sourced ratings sites.

And when you do, please don't insist to me that somehow the same science does not apply to RateAdvocate.

Because it does. I'm a liberal arts kind of guy, but even I can appreciate science on widely scattered occasions.

How Yelp Is Giving You Bad Advice, by Jessica Leigh Hester (City Lab)

 ... It’s no secret that many of us turn to crowdsourced sites to gather information and weigh options. Quantcast estimates that Yelp’s traffic—combining desktop and mobile visitors—is in the realm of 5,270,925 unique monthly users. We’re trying to find the experience that gels with our specific cravings, however niche. But are we actually learning anything from this “collective intelligence?”

Turns out, we’re suckers. In a study published in Science, researchers found that reviewers are easily manipulated by “social influence bias,” a feedback loop in which positive reviews beget more positive reviews. Another study, this one by Harvard Business School professor Michael Luca, corroborated these findings, concluding that restaurant reviews are influenced by ones preceding them—sometimes bumping up Yelp-style evaluations by as much as half a star.

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