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Characteristics of opinion
leaders in Second Life
University of Surrey
searching Virtual community
• How does interpersonal diffusion work in a
social virtual world?
– What are the characteristics of the network?
– What are the characteristics of opinion leaders
in this virtual world?
• Social network analysis: mapping the
connections between people in a social
– Rogers’ communication network analysis
• Focus on closeness, normative behaviours,
• Asking personal questions:
– Who are your friends?
– What do you think about them?
Ne tw o rk N = 6767
No t huge ly de nse : the re
are still co mpo ne nts
N = 750 o f the ne tw o rk w hich are
unco nne cte d to o ne ano the r
Ave rage be tw e e n re achable
frie nds = 5.81
Lo nge st distance be tw e e n
tw o pe o ple in the
ne tw o rk = 16
Ave rage numbe r
o f frie nds = 7
A note on the results on next few
Partial network: ego-centric data collection
In-degrees: Who’s the Most “Popular”?
Opinion Leader demographics
• Older (both in real life and in-
– Above average age of 33.7
– All but one is has been
resident for more than one
• Spend more time than average
per week (> 9 hours)
• 58% female
• Little gender-bending activity
• 83% from the USA*
• As sexually active
• Less likely to have experienced
a breach of personal privacy
• As likely to have been a scam
• (Multi-level modelling)
• Positive relationship between opinion
– Perceived trustworthiness
– Perceived credibility
– Perceived prototypicality
– Recipient of social comparison
• The people who have the most social
impact in the virtual world (using opinion
leader models) are remarkably
• One national culture dominates
• There’s a surprisingly small and
interconnected cohort of people who
dominate diffusion in the virtual world
(Feted Inner Core?)
• Partial network analysis means that in-degrees
emphasise “popularity” rather than actual opinion
• Dissecting the relationships between
psychological characteristics and network
• Whole network: follow the diffusion of voice
through the networks of the virtual world
– If one is meant to be more self-aware while online
(Spears et al), what role do friends/groups play in the
adoption of innovations in this space?
– What does social psychology contribute to the
diffusion of innovations within a social network?
Social Simulation Research Lab