The cognitive science of the ranking game

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article


We like to see who is stronger, richer, better, more clever. Since we humans (1) love lists; (2), are competitive, and (3) are jealous of other people, we like ranking. Students ranked in ascending order based on their heights in a gym reflects objectivity. However, many “Top Ten” (and other) lists are based on subjective categorization and give only the illusion of objectivity. We don’t always want to be seen objectively, since we don’t mind to have a better image or rank than we deserve. While making objective rankings sounds like an appealing goal, there are at least two different reasons why we may not have objectivity: ignorance and manipulation. Persons with less knowledge suffer from illusory superiority due to their cognitive bias, and this phenomenon is called the”Dunning-Kruger effect.” Omnipresent in society is not only ignorance but also manipulation. Manipulators have the intention of gaining personal advantage by adopting different tricks. Computer scientists design ranking algorithms, and computers can now process huge datasets with these algorithms. As we have seen, we are not always happy with the results, so we might ask whether, when, and how the results of a ranking algorithm should be controlled by content curators. Recent public debates about the use and misuse of data reinforce the message: we need a combination of human and computational intelligence [1].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-103
Number of pages9
JournalCEUR Workshop Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019
Event7th International Workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Cognition, AIC 2019 - Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: Sep 10 2019Sep 11 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)

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