The study suggests that self-diagnosis by search engine frequently leads Web searchers to conclude the worst about what ails them.
The researchers said they had undertaken the study as part of an effort to add features to Microsoft’s search service that could make it more of an adviser and less of a blind information retrieval tool.
Although the term “cyberchondria” emerged in 2000 to refer to the practice of leaping to dire conclusions while researching health matters online, the Microsoft study is the first systematic look at the anxieties of people doing searches related to health care, Eric Horvitz said.
Mr. Horvitz, an artificial intelligence researcher at Microsoft Research, said many people treated search engines as if they could answer questions like a human expert.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Technology's Side Effects