Harnessing social listening to explore consumer cognitive bias: implications for upstream social marketing

Publication Name

Journal of Social Marketing


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine how upstream social marketing can benefit from using social media commentary to identify cognitive biases. Using reactions to leading media/news publications/articles related to climate and energy policy in Australia, this paper aims to understand underlying community cognitive biases and their reasonings. Design/methodology/approach: Social listening was used to gather community commentary about climate and energy policy in Australia. This allowed the coding of natural language data to determine underlying cognitive biases inherent in the community. In all, 2,700 Facebook comments were collected from 27 news articles dated between January 2018 and March 2020 using exportcomments.com. Team coding was used to ensure consistency in interpretation. Findings: Nine key cognitive bias were noted, including, pessimism, just-world, confirmation, optimum, curse of knowledge, Dunning–Kruger, self-serving, concision and converge biases. Additionally, the authors report on the interactive nature of these biases. Right-leaning audiences are perceived to be willfully uninformed and motivated by self-interest; centric audiences want solutions based on common-sense for the common good; and left-leaning supporters of progressive climate change policy are typically pessimistic about the future of climate and energy policy in Australia. Impacts of powerful media organization shaping biases are also explored. Research limitations/implications: Through a greater understanding of the types of cognitive biases, policy-makers are able to better design and execute influential upstream social marketing campaigns. Originality/value: The study demonstrates that observing cognitive biases through social listening can assist upstream social marketing understand community biases and underlying reasonings towards climate and energy policy.

Open Access Status

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