Unbiased learning of controversial topics

V. G.Vinod Vydiswaran, Cheng Xiang Zhai, Dan Roth, Peter Pirolli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When presented with many relevant documents about a controversial topic, humans do not always read and trust them uniformly. Instead, they tend to follow and agree with articles and sources that hold similar viewpoints as theirs, a phenomenon known as confirmation bias. This suggests that when acquiring additional knowledge about a controversial topic, human biases and viewpoints about the topic may affect what information is considered trustworthy. We designed a user study to analyze various factors that may help in learning about a controversial topic without bias. In this paper, we study the impact of presenting contrasting viewpoints on learning about controversial claims. Our analysis shows that exposing subjects to contrasting viewpoints helped them learn more efficiently and reduce strongly-held biases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the ASIST Annual Meeting
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012


  • Claim verification
  • Unbiased learning
  • User study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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