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‘Status Symbols’ in online debates can create bias

A debate team’s reward usually comes in the form of a trophy; however, in today’s online world, recognition for winning a debate is a small and valuable symbol.

Online discussions on platforms such as Reddit and GitHub have grown in popularity with these platforms rewarding participation with virtual symbols. These rewards have become a powerful motivator for participation, but do they infringe on a fair discussion?

In new research from Cornell, professors used machine learning to examine 1 million online discussions, and they determined that the persuasive power of “symbolic status” from virtual badges and titles has the potential to create an imbalance of power by favoring “high-status” users. They found that status has inherent persuasive power and significantly increases a user’s persuasion rate over and above the content of their arguments and ultimately undermines the principles of authentic deliberation.

Read the full story about ‘Status Symbols’ in online debates can create bias at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business news site, BusinessFeed.

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