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How Journalists' Language Reflects Cognitive Biases

In this study, researchers analyzed the language used by journalists in reporting on the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. The study found that journalists often relied on heuristics and emotions when reporting on Twitter, where speed and informality were prioritized. The researchers also found that journalists used more emotional language in their tweets than in traditional media, and were less likely to use words related to analytical and long-term thinking. Across all media, journalists often relied on an anchoring heuristic, describing the current race in terms of their experience covering prior presidential elections.

This study sheds light on how journalists’ cognitive biases are reflected in their reporting. By analyzing a large dataset of journalistic output from the campaign trail, the researchers demonstrate how the pressures of time and uncertainty can shape journalistic language. The findings have implications for both journalists and their audiences, highlighting the importance of being aware of cognitive biases in decision-making and communication.

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

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