Two Half-Truths Make a Whole? On Bias in Self-reports and Tracking Data
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionSocial science computer review. 2019, 1-16. 10.1177/0894439319831643
The pervasive use of mobile information technologies brings new patterns of media usage, but also challenges to the measurement of media exposure. Researchers wishing to, for example, understand the nature of selective exposure on algorithmically driven platforms need to precisely attribute individuals’ exposure to specific content. Prior research has used tracking data to show that survey-based self-reports of media exposure are critically unreliable. So far, however, little effort has been invested into assessing the specific biases of tracking methods themselves. Using data from a multimethod study, we show that tracking data from mobile devices is linked to systematic distortions in self-report biases. Further inherent but unobservable sources of bias, along with potential solutions, are discussed.