Validating Bayesian truth serum in large-scale online human experiments

Frank, M. R., Cebrian, M., Pickard, G., & Rahwan, I. (2017). Validating Bayesian truth serum in large-scale online human experiments. PloS one, 12(5), e0177385.


Bayesian truth serum (BTS) is an exciting new method for improving honesty and information quality in multiple-choice survey, but, despite the method’s mathematical reliance on large sample sizes, existing literature about BTS only focuses on small experiments. Combined with the prevalence of online survey platforms, such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, which facilitate surveys with hundreds or thousands of participants, BTS must be effective in large-scale experiments for BTS to become a readily accepted tool in real-world applications. We demonstrate that BTS quantifiably improves honesty in large-scale online surveys where the “honest” distribution of answers is known in expectation on aggregate. Furthermore, we explore a marketing application where “honest” answers cannot be known, but find that BTS treatment impacts the resulting distributions of answers.

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