I love free books. Last week I borrowed Everybody Lies –by the way INSEAD Library and Europe CE Library both worth a visit! This book is a best seller written by economist Stephens Davidowitz on ”Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are”.
The author reminds us that people may lie during surveys to look better, even if the surveys are anonymous. This is called social desirability bias. I think we all feel some kind of peer pressure, we are conscious about how we look, how we talk, how we are perceived, what is our personal and professional brand. This is very natural and universal. Ironically, it seems that we are more human than ever when typing queries on a search engine powered by artificial intelligence.
The book provides tones of information on our (gender, religion, racial) bias based on internet searches, especially in the USA. For example “parents Google “Is my daughter overweight?” roughly twice as frequently as they Google “Is my son overweight”? This gender bias is not grounded in reality. About 28% of girls are overweight, while 35% of boys are”.
When I googled what others think of you the top result was “3 ways to not to care what others think of you”. There are thousands good (and not so good) advice and interesting coaching videos but what is more interesting, my search has been stored somewhere. Google keeps all the data on what people are searching, all the time, everywhere.
If you have not heard of Google Trends you are lucky. You have not opened Pandora’s Box yet. This is one of the main sources of Davidowitz’s book. If you click on Google Trends you can see how many people googled Kim Kardashian versus Taylor Swift last week in the USA but you can also analyze how INSEAD has done compared to Harvard or MBA for the past year in Singapore.
What was your latest google search?
What do you think your colleagues, your neighbors, your friends, your family googled most recently?
Do you think google will replace theatre as a mirror to society? Or this has already been taken care of by reality shows? J
Wishing you a great week-end with free books and inspirational googling!
Zeynep Flouret is a member of the Employer Engagement team in the Career Development Centre in INSEAD covering the Energy and Industrial sectors in Europe and Americas. She has worked as a lawyer advising international clients in the M&A and project finance space before joining INSEAD.