Washington, Jan 25 : In today's time, knowledge on any topic is just a click away. However, despite the overabundance of information available on the Internet, people pay more attention to data that match their pre-existing beliefs.
The study, conducted by researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia, stated that even if Internet users read the right material, they are stubborn to changing their views.
"Even if people read the right material, they are stubborn to changing their views. This means that providing people with the right information on its own may not be enough," said one of the authors, UNSW Professor Enrico Coiera.
The research team considered how people use Internet search engines to answer health questions.
"We know that the web is increasingly being used by people to help them make healthcare decisions. We know that there can be negative consequences if people find the wrong information, especially as people in some countries can now self-medicate by ordering drugs online. Australians can order complementary medicines online and these can interfere with other medications," said Coiera.
Coiera added: "Our research shows that, even if search engines do find the 'right' information, people may still draw the wrong conclusions - in other words, their conclusions are biased."
According to the researchers, what also matters is where the information appears in the search results and how much time a person spends looking at it. "The first or the last document the user sees has a much greater impact on their decisions," said Coiera.
The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.