Studying Social Influence On The WWW

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An overview of Web research areas of interest to social scientists presented at Brunel University 3 March 2010, including an overview of my attempts to understand social influence online for my PhD thesis (http://alekskrotoski.com/tags/phd). includes general findings and an overview of the themes discussed in BBC2's Virtual Revolution series.

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Studying Social Influence On The WWW

  1. 1. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web Aleks Krotoski University of Surrey Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010
  2. 2. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010
  3. 3. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web Problems with studying cyberspace •Anonymity? •Absence of hierarchy? •Transience? •Lack of consequence? •Generalisation? Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010
  4. 4. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web Correll, S. (1995). The Ethnography of an Electronic Bar: The Lesbian Cafe. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 24, 270- 298. Dibbell, J. (1999). My tiny life: Crime and passion in a virtual world. London: Fourth Estate Limited. Jacobsson, M. & Taylor, T. L. (2003). The Sopranos meets EverQuest: Social networking in massively multiplayer online games. In MelbourneDAC, the 5th International Digital Arts and Culture Conference (pp. 81-90). Melbourne, The World Wide Web Australia: School of Applied Image by Tonionick1 Communication, RMIT. Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010
  5. 5. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web Castronova, E. (2003). The Price of "Man" and "Woman": A hedonic pricing model of avatar attributes in a synthetic world. Social Science Research Network Electronic Library [On-line]. Available: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?a bstract_id=415043 Raymond, E. S. (2000). Homesteading on the Noosphere. First Monday [On-line]. Available: http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue3 _10/raymond/index.html Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010
  6. 6. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010
  7. 7. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web Three questions: 1. What does it mean to be ‘close’ to someone in an online community? 2. How do online community networks affect attitudes? 3. How does information spread through online communities? Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010
  8. 8. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web Second Life (2006-2008) •Social Virtual World •Male/Female 40/60 split •Average age 35 •Sizeable population… •Emergent social phenomena •http://www.nyls.edu/stateofplay Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010
  9. 9. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010
  10. 10. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web What does it mean to be ‘close’ to someone in an online community? •Online sociometric survey •Random sample •Psychological factors: Trust, credibility, social comparison, prototypicality •Social network factors: Avatar modification, Partnership, Public/Private/non-Second Life communication •N=33 •Multi-level modelling Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010
  11. 11. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web Importance of offline identity in Online Social Influence: Closest trust relationships allowed Avatar modification and non-Second Life communication Public displays of closeness (partnerships, public Second Life communication) resulted in higher ratings of group prototypicality and credibility Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010
  12. 12. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web How do online community networks affect attitudes? •Online social network analysis •Five wave snowball sample •Psychological factors: Trust, credibility, social comparison, prototypicality, personal attitude, perceptions of friends’ attitudes •Social network factors: Public/Private/non-Second Life communication, position and structure of local network •N=734 (9,561 connections) •Social network analysis •Multi-level modelling Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010
  13. 13. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web Importance of perceptions of attitudes in Online Social Influence: •Online perceptions demonstrated heightened pluralistic ignorance Importance of networks in Online Social Influence: •Tight-knit clusters reported similar attitudes •Integrated members were less like other network members Relationship between perceptions of attitudes and networks in Online Social Influence: •Density of networks predicted correct perceptions of attitudes •Integration in networks did not predict correct perceptions of networks’ attitudes Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010
  14. 14. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web How does information spread through online communities? •Longitudinal social network analysis (August 2007-April 2008) •Whole network analysis •Psychological factors: Trust, credibility, social comparison, prototypicality, personal attitude, perceptions of friends’ behaviour •Social network factors: Position in and structure of network •N=47,643 (80,000+ connections) •Social network analysis •Multi-level modelling, linear regression Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010
  15. 15. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web Behaviour online doesn’t spread like behaviour offline: •Multiple periods of rapid uptake reflecting ‘long tail’ (Anderson, 2006) and reciprocal innovation patterns (Markus, 1987) Online norms about the innovation influence adoption: •Online-offline identity interactions affect personal adoption •Online norms help community members identify when it is ‘safe’ to adopt Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010
  16. 16. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web In sum. •There are complexities of online relationships that have an effect on influence (see also Dunbar) •Perceptions of attitudes are generally incorrect (see also Wojcieszak, 2008) •Identity is important in choosing your friends, and in choosing your behaviours Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010
  17. 17. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web A few more Big Ideas about the Web •Celebrity •Disinformation •The Cult of Me •Education •Sex, Love •Knowledge •Workplace •Trust •Identity •Diffusion •Persuasion •Nationalism •Influence •Community •Ethics •Value •New territories •Social Change •Stereotyping •Cyberbalkanization Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010
  18. 18. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web Questions we could have asked •To what extent do recommendation engines (e.g., Amazon) encourage cultural homogeneity and serendipity? •How might the Web contribute to the development of extremism because of confirmation biases and pluralistic ignorance? •What does the notion of having 700 ‘friends’ on a social media site mean for account holders? •What are the real social, political, economic and psychological long- term effects of the new Web in new territories? Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010
  19. 19. Studying Social Influence on the World Wide Web Thank you. Aleks@alekskrotoski.com Department of Informatics Systems and Computing, Brunel University 3 March 2010

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