How human instincts could be beneficial in identifying online deception

The human instinct may be very beneficial when it comes to weeding out deceptive online reviews, according to a new study by the University of York.

The study appeared in Information & Management.

Conducted in conjunction with Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, the new study demonstrates the difficulty of distinguishing online reviews deemed as deceptive or fake.

“Reading and writing online reviews of hotels, restaurants, venues and so on, is a popular activity for online users, but alongside this, ‘fake’ reviews have also increased,” said Snehasish Banerjee, an author of the study, in a press release.

“We wanted to understand whether human analysis was capable of filling this gap and whether more could be done to educate online users on how to approach these reviews,” Banerjee also stated.

At the start of the study, 380 participants were tasked to respond to a questionnaire involving online reviews in popular places of attraction. A portion of the reviews and user-generated accounts were fake while others were genuine.

According to the findings: “Perceived specificity was positively related to perceived review authenticity, whereas perceived exaggeration showed a negative association. Epistemic belief with respect to justification for knowing significantly moderated both the relationships.”

Relying on gut instinct, the researchers uncovered that such instincts could help identify deceptive online reviews.

“Following this study, we are recommending that people need to curb their instincts on truth and deception bias—the tendency to either approach online content with the assumption that it is all true or all fake respectively—as neither method works in the online environment,” Banerjee concluded.

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