That’s pretty revolutionary relative to the data we’ve had on human beings before.
ASTEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ: Economists hate surveys, because you can’t really trust what people tell you. Whereas if you’re online, you have an incentive to tell the truth to get the information that you actually need. “I’m sad” or “I’m drunk” or “I love my girlfriend’s boobs.” Why are you telling Google that?
DUBNER: Considering that most surveys are done either anonymously or with someone that you have zero repeat transactions with, why do you think the human animal is predisposed toward protecting or burnishing their reputation even in a case where the stakes almost couldn’t be lower. DUBNER: Do you think your compulsive honesty pays off? I had a just okay picture, or maybe even a mediocre picture, because I didn’t want to be misleading. It feels like a confessional window where people just type statements with no reason[able impression] that Google would be able to help.
His conclusion: our online searches are the reflection of our true selves. Below is a transcript of the episode, modified for your reading pleasure.
For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.
One of my favorite examples — and this is just bizarre — [is that] the top search that starts “my husband wants” in India is “my husband wants me to breastfeed him.” That, nobody knows about.
Literally after I published that finding, they started interviewing people in India about this finding. Doctors are like, “We’ve never heard of this.” The fact exists.
Or do you feel that compulsive honesty really makes your life more difficult and that lying overall — obviously there’s a million variations in shadings — is a pretty sensible strategy for life. I was getting no dates, and I’m like “Wait, this is stupid.” Then I changed to like a really good picture, and I’m like “Oh. That makes a lot of sense.” )] So: when we’re putting out information about ourselves, we may lie. DUBNER: You write in the book, “The microscope showed us there is more to a drop of pond water than we think we see.
But when we want to find information — via Google, let’s say — well, there’s no incentive to lie. The telescope showed us there is more to the night sky than we think we see.
STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ: Social desirability bias is basically that you want to look good in a survey.