Are We Really Cognitively Biased?

Many may argue that our exposure to the infinite amount of information on the web has the ability to make us a more a more knowledgeable, understanding, tolerant, educated, and coherent society. But is that really true? How does all of this available information, which is expanding at exponential rates, really affect us and our understanding of the world around us? We are faced with the mounting challenge of categorizing, sorting, and organizing all this information so we can make some sense of it all so that generations to come can learn from it. Google may be the universal leader in organizing information on the web – but that doesn’t necessarily lead to a universal understanding. The growing question is: Does all of this abundant information really change our views and preconceived notions? Interestingly enough, the Centre for Health Informatics from the University of New South Wales researched if people experience cognitive biases while searching for information (in this specific case, medical information), and the results were quite astonishing. The research indicated that people indeed do experience anchoring (maintaining your prior personal beliefs), exposure and order biases while searching for information. Furthermore, these biases do influence the quality of decision making during and after the use of information retrieval systems. With that said, the implications of this study are compelling as it demonstrates that while we may be often drowning in a surplus of information out there, we still maintain our cognitive integrity and are not so vulnerable to taking on different perspectives on any given issue. So if we are biased when it comes to medical information, can we expand it to a broader spectrum and say that in other areas such as politics, business, primary education, or even day to day life – we also experience a form of cognitive biases? For now, we cannot quite say – but surely someone will research this in the future, and it would be interesting to see its results. With all that said, we are all familiar with the phrase: “First impressions are lasting impressions”. Perhaps now, we can say that this old wives tale has some empirical validity to it. When we meet people in person, it’s easier to form first impressions – which usually do form lasting impressions. We can create or damper business opportunities based on the way others perceive us in the first few seconds of meeting us.

When was the last time you thought of the “impression” you leave on the web? Can you really be so confident that when someone searches your name, they will have a positive lasting impression? At LookupPage, we bear this very principle in mind – and that’s why we are confident that once you create your personal LookupPage, you won’t have to worry your about reputation on the web. Think of your page, as your personal business card that goes everywhere on the web when someone searches your name.