Are people biased in their use of search engines?

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Title: Are people biased in their use of search engines?
Authors: Keane, Mark T.
O'Brien, Maeve
Smyth, Barry
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/1643
Date: Feb-2008
Abstract: Search-engines are among the most used resources on the Internet. Google, for example, now hosts over eight billion items and returns answers to queries in a fraction of a second, thus realising some of the more far-fetched predictions envisioned by the pioneers of the World Web Web. In the present study, we assess whether people are biased in their use of a search-engine; specifically, whether they are biased in clicking on those items that are presented as being the most relevant in the search engine’s result list (i.e., those items listed at the top of the result list). To test this bias hypothesis, we simulated the Google environment systematically reversing Google’s normal relevance-ordering of the items presented to users. Our results show that people do manifest some bias, favoring items at the top of result lists, though they also sometimes seek out high-relevance items listed further down a list. Later, we discuss whether this bias arises from people’s implicit trust in a search engine, like Google, or some other effect.
Funding Details: Science Foundation Ireland
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: ACM
Copyright (published version): 2008 ACM
Subject LCSH: Searching behavior
Information behavior
Internet searching
Web search engines
DOI: 10.1145/1314215.1314224
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:CLARITY Research Collection
Computer Science Research Collection

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