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Collaborative Biases

Working groupKnowledge Construction Lab
FundingLeibniz Association (Junior Lab within the “Women in Scientific Leading Positions” framework of the SAW-Procedure 2017)
Project description

The junior project group "Collaborative Biases" investigated to what extent biases in information processing, which are known from research with individuals, can also be found in collaboratively produced web content. For example, we examined whether the "own" group was systematically presented in a more favorable light in Wikipedia articles about an international conflict (e.g., Ukraine in the Ukrainian article about the Crimean crisis and Russia in the Russian article about the Crimean crisis). Such biases in Wikipedia and other online encyclopedias may in turn influence a broad readership.

In particular, the project group investigated three aspects that may play a role in the emergence of biases in socially negotiated wiki articles: (1) the rules that apply in a collaborative system (e.g., Wikipedia/Conservapedia), (2) the tuning of one's own contributions to the (expected) opinions of other authors and the readership (audience tuning), and (3) the degree of diffusion of an information bias. To investigate these aspects, both ecologically valid field studies (e.g., comparisons of articles from different online encyclopedias; comparisons of contributions by the same authors to different language versions of an article - e.g., the Russian vs. Ukrainian article on the Crimean crisis) and precisely controlled laboratory experiments were conducted.

Among other things, the project results showed that there is a collective ingroup bias in Wikipedia. For example, several studies showed that Wikipedia articles favored the group of conflict parties who spoke the same language (i.e., the "ingroup"). In contrast, the group speaking a different language (i.e., the "outgroup") was portrayed as systematically more immoral and more responsible for the conflict.


Meuer, M., von der Beck, I., Nestler, S., & Oeberst, A. (2021). What drives increases in hindsight impressions after the reception of biased media content? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 27(3), 461-472. request document

Oeberst, A., von der Beck, I., Matschke, C., Ihme, T. A., & Cress, U. (2020). Collectively biased representations of the past: Ingroup Bias in Wikipedia articles about intergroup conflicts. British Journal of Social Psychology, 59(4), 791-818. Open Access

Oeberst, A., von der Beck, I., Back, M., Cress, U., & Nestler, S. (2018). Biases in the production and reception of collective knowledge: The case of hindsight bias in Wikipedia. Psychological Research, 82, 1010-1026.

von der Beck, I., Oeberst, A., Cress, U., & Nestler, S. (2017). Cultural interpretations of global information? Hindsight bias after reading Wikipedia articles across cultures. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 31, 315-325.