top of page

Subscribe to get the latest updates from Receptiviti

Anchoring in the past, tweeting from the present: Cognitive bias in journalists’ word choices

This study examines journalists’ language in their reporting and what their word choices reveal about their cognitive mindsets. Reporters on the campaign trail often cannot afford to engage in systematic information processing as they distill complex political situations under deadline pressures. Twitter’s emphasis on speed and informal cultural milieu can further lead journalists to rely on heuristics and emotions. Drawing upon insights from theories of the mind, memory, and language, this study explores how cognitive biases are embodied in journalistic work across different media. The researchers built a large-scale dataset of text corpora that consisted of more than 220,000 news articles, broadcast transcripts, and tweets generated over a year by 73 campaign reporters in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Leveraging this unique dataset of journalistic outputs from a campaign season, the researchers conducted automated text analyses. Results suggest that heuristics and intuitive thinking played a significant role in the generation of content on Twitter. Journalists infused their tweets with more emotion, compared to when they appeared in traditional media such as newspapers and broadcasts. Journalists’ tweets contained fewer words related to analytical and long-term thinking than their writing. Journalists also used informal language in their tweets to connect with their audiences in more personal and casual manners. Across all media examined in the study, journalists described the current race by drawing upon their experience of covering prior presidential elections, a form of anchoring heuristic. This study extends the use of cognitive biases in politics to a new realm, reporting, and shows how journalists’ use of language on the campaign trail reflects cognitive biases that arise when individuals make decisions under time pressure and uncertainty.


In the Receptiviti LIWC Research Series, we highlight important research conducted using our platform and science that has implications for our customers' and partners' businesses and for society at large.


Read the article


Citation:

Lee J, Hamilton JT (2022) Anchoring in the past, tweeting from the present: Cognitive bias in journalists’ word choices. PLoS ONE 17(3): e0263730. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0263730





If you enjoyed this article, get notified when there's new content!

Customer Stories

Customer Stories and Use Cases

Organizations of all sizes have integrated Receptiviti into their technologies and processes to uncover critical insights about the people who matter to their businesses.

Talent Evaluation

Learn how HR technology companies have integrated Receptiviti's language-based Big Five and DISC into their platforms.

LEARN MORE

Social Media

Use of Phone

See how Receptiviti powers social media monitoring technologies with point-in-time and longitudinal audience profiling and measurement. 

EXPLORE THE DEMO

Digital Health

Medical Consultation

Learn how digital health providers use Receptiviti to predict trajectories, optimize care delivery, and ensure positive outcomes.

LEARN MORE

Workforce Culture and DEI

work together

HR technology providers integrate Receptiviti to measure workplace culture and workforce wellbeing from aggregated open-end responses.

LEARN MORE

Marketing Communications

Marketing Comms.jpg

Learn how PR & communications agencies measure the personality of audiences, and optimize the communications they create to engage them.

LEARN MORE

Assessment and Coaching

Motivational Speaker

Learn how executive coaches and training providers use Receptiviti to enhance program effectiveness by assessing leaders' communication styles.

LEARN MORE

Public Markets

Earnings calls.jpg

Learn how investors and fund managers use Receptiviti to gain deep insights into the psychology of executives at publicly traded companies.

EXPLORE THE DEMO

What's your story?

Team Meeting

Speak with one of our subject matter experts to learn how Receptiviti can uncover insights about the people who are important to your business.

SPEAK WITH AN EXPERT

Ready to get started or have questions?
bottom of page