Something that seems more prevalent in the US than ever before is polarization between conservatives and liberals. How many of the 2.07 billion active Facebook are aware of the targeted marketing that Facebook employs based on political opinion? Facebook actually monitors activity and determines your political leaning within days of opening an account. Facebook is notorious for using machine learning for ad targeting. Within 24 hours of creating a Facebook account, they already have targeted ads based on how much time you view certain ads, videos, and articles. Why is this so effective? Humans are obviously naturally drawn to their interests and thus, greater ad revenue. It might be a good business model — But what is it doing to our mind?
Seeing ads and content that reflect our own opinions will only solidify them and does not cause healthy thinking. When we see things that affirm our opinions we are happy because we can relate and don’t have to think beyond our scope. This is an example of confirmation bias. People love to agree with each other. It’s way easier to agree than to disagree. Similarly, people tend to form tighter-bonds with those in a group, whether that be a group defined by a job or even a similar interest. This is called ingroup bias which also stunts healthy thinking. Someone is far more likely to listen and adopt the ideals of those in their group than to even listen to opinions presented by those in another group. These types of biases exist all around us and I have recently realized how important it is to recognize these.
When someone is asking people questions or observing them, they need to be aware of what influences decisions and what may or may not be shared with you. Bias can also be used to elicit more information from someone and even grow revenue. Just as Facebook uses bias to gain more ad revenue, one can use bias to translate into sales. Whether or not newspapers do it on purpose, a study done at the University of Tampa has shown that political opinions sell. Liberal and conservative biased newspapers sold %12 more nationally than those that have been generally identified as impartial.
This concept can be used in an interview setting. For example, if one is to interview a possible hire — they can do research on the given person, determine their interests and emulate. They can use ingroup and confirmation bias to their advantage. When you are surrounded by people similar to you (even if it is an illusion), someone is far more likely to be themselves and provide a clearer picture of who they are.
It really is interesting learning about bias and I am excited to learn how it translates to different mediums of communication (surveys, polls, etc.)
What Drives Media Bias? New Evidence From Recent Newspaper Closures Cagdas Agirdas Journal of Media Economics Vol. 28, Iss. 3, 2015