SBEE Lecture Series: Robert Meyer

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 11:30am to 1:00pm

 Ross School of Business - R0240

The Social, Behavioral and Experimental Economics lecture series is sponsored by the School of Information, the Ross School of Business and the Department of Economics. Speakers from U.S. and international universities present their research at weekly seminars during the 2018-2019 academic year.

When News Gets Negative: The Evolution of Content in the Successive Re-telling of Events


What happens to the fidelity of news when it is retold?  This question has drawn increased attention in recent years because of the rise of social media, where news often takes the form of second-or-third-hand retellings of original source material.  As such, it has been widely blamed for the proliferation of of “fake news”. In this research I report the findings of three large-scale experiments on how the substantive characteristics of news changes over multiple waves of written re-summarization by different agents.  We offer evidence that when news events are successively re-summarized they are not prone to exaggeration or fabrication of facts, but rather a unique pattern of distortion that we refer to as disagreeable personalization: as details of the original event vanish, the vacuum is filled by highly subjective, personalized interpretations of news that are laced with negatively slanted expressions of opinion. This evolution toward disagreeable personalization is found to be quite robust, observed even when writers are given the goal to be as accurate as possible when retelling original events.  We find that this dynamic arises from a linguistic diffusion process in which injections of opinion by one writer in a chain is mimicked by the next, with negativity having a greater evolutionary survival value than positivity. 

Speaker Bio

Robert Meyer is the Frederick H. Ecker/MetLife Insurance Professor and Co-Director of Wharton’s Risk Management and Decision Processes Center.  He is a noted scholar whose research focuses on consumer decision analysis, sales response modeling, and decision making under uncertainty. Professor Meyer’s work has appeared in a wide variety of professional journals and books, including the Journal of Consumer Research, the Journal of Marketing Research, the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Marketing Science, Management Science, and Risk Analysis. He is currently Senior Editor for journals of the American Marketing Association, and was former editor  of the Journal of Marketing Research and Marketing Letters.  He also served as an associated editor for  the Journal of Consumer Research, the Journal of Marketing, and Marketing Science.  He has also served on the editorial review board of several major journals.

The talk will begin at 11:45 a.m. and end at 12:45 p.m.