Understanding Social Influence On Online Choice

1024 Words5 Pages
Purpose of the Study To Switch or Not to Switch: Understanding Social Influence in Online Choice is a study that was focused on the role of social influence in online recommender systems. Haiyi Zhu and Bernardo A. Huberman, the authors of the study, were interested in studying how often peoples’ choices are affected by other individuals’ endorsements. The hypothesis of the study is that individuals “are more likely to reverse their opinions when the reversion causes less self-inconsistency (the confirmation pressure is weaker) or the opposing social opinions are stronger (the conformity pressure is stronger)”. Methodology The researchers conducted various online experiments. The participants in the study went to the Rankr website to select their preference of one image out of two images displayed. They first did this with no knowledge of what people before them picked. The second time the participants had indications of what others had chosen. The researchers were trying to determine whether seeing other peoples’ preferences affected the participants’ choices. This setup allowed for social influence to be measured based on if people changed their selections between the two instances. The researchers wanted to see if the participants changed their mind after seeing what others preferred. In addition, the researchers wanted to manipulate the pressure of social opinions by changing the time between the two selection periods. The first time participants selected their
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