Travelers Should Rely on Instinct Over Algorithms for Online Hotel Booking

07 March 2021 17:36 STI

Washington [US]March 7 (ANI): Researchers in a recent study found that travelers looking to book a hotel should believe their instincts instead of relying on computer algorithms to find fake reviews.
Research, conducted by the University of York in collaboration with Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, shows the challenges of “fake” online reviews for users and computer algorithms. This suggests that greater knowledge of the linguistic characteristics of “fake” reviews may enable online users to distinguish “real” from “fake” for themselves.
Dr Snehasish Banerjee, Lecturer in Marketing at the University of York School of Management, said: “Reading and writing online reviews of hotels, restaurants, places, etc., is an activity popular for online users, but along with this, the “fake” reviews have also increased.
“Companies can now use computer algorithms to distinguish ‘fake’ from ‘real’ with a good level of accuracy, but the extent to which company websites use these algorithms is unclear and some ‘fake’ reviews creep on the net.
“We wanted to understand if human analysis was able to fill this gap and if more could be done to educate online users on how to approach these reviews.”

The researchers asked 380 people to answer questions about three hotel reviews – some genuine, some fake – based on their perception of the reviews. Users could rely on the same cues that computer algorithms use to discern “fake” reviews, which include the number of superlatives in the review, the level of detail if it was easy to read and seemed evasive.
For those who were already skeptical of online reviews, this was a relatively simple task, but most couldn’t identify factors like “easy to read” and “non-binding” as a computer algorithm would. In the absence of this skill, participants relied on “gut instinct.”
Dr Banerjee said: “The results were surprisingly effective. We often assume that the human brain is no match for a computer, but in reality, there are certain things we can do to train the mind to approach certain aspects of life differently.
“As a result of this study, we recommend that people curb their instincts for truth and deception – the tendency to approach online content on the assumption that everything is true or all false respectively – because no of the methods does not work in the online environment.
“Online users often fail to detect fake reviews because they don’t proactively look for clues of deception. There is a need to change this default reading habit, and if the reading habit is practiced long enough , they will eventually be able to rely on their instincts for detecting fake reviews.”
The research also reminds companies that ethical standards must be upheld to ensure authentic experiences of their services are reflected online. (ANI)

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