On the Bias Inherent in Online Reviews

Online Reviews

Nowadays, many individuals are interested in making monetary investments in particular products & services, or making some life-impacting decision, base their choices upon the reviews left by people (in comments sections & elsewhere) on pertinent online platforms. Easily accessible through the Spectrum packages and internet service deals, these web-based portals, however, are highly susceptible to the socially-consequential ‘negativity bias problem, which causes people to leave either very good or intensely degrading remarks; with those individuals who espouse relatively moderate counter views largely seen to be absent from these virtual exchanges.

Addressing People’s Distinct Reporting Inclinations:

Most people are ruled by their emotions; as they continue to unfold through the constant instigations of a variety of external sociological phenomena, and internal analytical drives that leave an impact on them. When contending with a good or bad experience related to a certain purchased commodity or service, or when encountering obstacles in their path towards utility-fulfillment, these individuals (who form the larger bulk of practically every human community, and have arguably always done so) exhibit a tendency to become consumed by the abstract psychological extremes of either too much happiness or revulsion.

How a Minority Ends Up Holding Sway:

Gripped in this fervor, they unwittingly may choose to label the objects of their focus in a way that lacks much evidence of any semblance of both holistic & objective mental contemplation. As such, they’re more likely than their more moderately-tempered counterparts, whose experiences may have been more averagely-placed – andare thereforemore resoundingly indicative of majority opinion – to publish their views online. The other grouping of users is content with their resigned passivity regarding the issue(s) under heated deliberation, and don’t generally seem to think that the effort of composing their own review pieces is sufficiently warranted in such cases.

Because the Majority refuses to be vocally Engaged:

Many academicians, who make it their paid vocation to study online consumer behavior thoroughly, have long since complained about the absence of this silent majority on online forums (and in popular social discourse generally); an issue which results in the establishment of an unrepresentative space which they believe to be responsible for many non-discerning people in society making a series of highly misguided decisions.

When considered from the macroeconomic social perspective, these ill-informed choices can directly lead to the entrenchment of unfairly negative ideas regarding individuals and organizations; which may actually turn out (through practical experience) to be much more positively nuanced in their criticized dynamics than what hastily written review pieces would have one believe.

Conflating Facts with Opinions:

On a similarly-related front, many people (particularly those active on social media forums) make a conscious decision to forgo reading lengthy pieces of prose from credible literary sources; and instead choose to make up their minds based on the emotive (and oftentimes abuse-ridden) inscriptions left behind by all manner of generally disgruntled people. These uncritical information recipients don’t seem to fully appreciate the fact that a lot of people like to channel their pent-up frustration arising from personal matters towards other totally unrelated avenues; many times out of feelings of jealousy, animosity and spite towards those who they believe to have it easier in life than them.

Such decision-making, as is easy to fathom, largely leads to many destructive conclusions; which can likely inflict more future harm than good in the lives of those people who follow this epistemological course. When looked at in real-life settings, ill-advised decisions manage to definitivelyusurp popular elections, and make way for the entrenchment of a post-truth zeitgeist of‘fake news’; in a world-view where verifiable facts are seen to compete with individual opinions to assert their authentic validity.

Limiting Online Review Bias:

A recent Harvard Business Review piece highlighted the attempts of a group of researchers who tried to dispense pools of online commentators with monetary and ‘prosocial’ incentives – as encouragement to record their opinions regarding products, services and experiences with greater effort & precision. Their study found that the (above mentioned) silent majority of reviewers subsequently did pen their own personalized & balanced responses – which thereafter became the standing opinions due to the larger number of people who shared them.

What was previously illustrated as a ‘J’ curve soon became more equitably-distributed on the graph, demonstrating the efficacy with which suitably meted-out incentives can provide some much-needed motivation to greater swaths of the population to be more active in public life.

By determining your internet need, you can sign-up for a high-speed Spectrum internet only plans that lets access many websites that present a range of popular public opinion in ‘review’ formatting – allowing you to make more informed decisions.



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