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Networks of Social Influence. Eliot Smith Indiana University, Bloomington March, 2007. Social influence: The core of social psychology. Definitionally (Allport): Social psychology studies the effect of others (real, imagined, or implied) on our thoughts, feelings, and actions

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networks of social influence

Networks of Social Influence

Eliot Smith

Indiana University, Bloomington

March, 2007

social influence the core of social psychology
Social influence:The core of social psychology
  • Definitionally (Allport): Social psychology studies the effect of others (real, imagined, or implied) on our thoughts, feelings, and actions
  • Substantively: Social influence underlies every major topic area: conformity, group decision making, close relationships, persuasion, intergroup relations, negotiation, etc….
typical research approach
Typical research approach
  • Micro-level focus on individual cognitive processes
    • One-shot influence
    • Experimenter-constructed messages
types of influence
Types of influence
  • Persuasion
    • Intended by influence source
    • Via message
  • Conformity
    • Often not intended by influence source
    • Multiple motives of influence targets
      • Want to fit in with crowd (identity)
      • See benefits in what others are doing (rewards)
broadening the focus
Broadening the focus
  • Patterns of influence that emerge when
    • many people (each acting as source and target of influence)
    • influence each other over time
  • As in face-to-face groups
  • Emergence: Even complete knowledge of micro-level processes insufficient for prediction and understanding
our project
Our project
  • Review, conceptually analyze social influence models that look at multidirectional influence over time
  • Encourage integration of social psychology’s knowledge about micro-level processes with broader context provided by these models
    • Winter Mason, Frederica (Riki) Conrey, Eliot Smith (Personality and Social Psychology Review, in press)
first lesson learned
First lesson learned
  • Vast majority of models are from outside social psychology
    • Economics, sociology, political science, cognitive science, cognitive anthropology, physics, …
  • Many disciplines are interested in social influence processes
    • Rumor spread, group problem-solving and decision-making, word of mouth about new products, …
    • Closely related models: disease epidemics
slide8
Models from other fields
    • usually more concerned with macro-level outcomes (e.g., % of population who hears rumor) than with micro-process
    • rarely if ever draw on social psychological theory or findings
first question about each model
First question about each model
  • How (and whether) it avoids predicting collapse of attitudes or beliefs to complete uniformity
  • Relevant to exploitation/exploration tradeoff: maintaining diversity allows exploration, sampling of different regions of search space
    • Hutchins example
abelson s dilemma
Abelson’s dilemma
  • Consider 3 assumptions:
    • Multiple actors (who are all connected)
    • Influence over many time steps
    • Assimilative influence, linear in form
  • Linear, assimilative influence means recipient of influence, on average, moves some percentage of the way from original position toward influencer’s position
abelson s dilemma11
Abelson’s dilemma
  • With those assumptions the inevitable outcome is complete uniformity of attitudes within the range of original attitudes
    • R. P. Abelson (1964)
abelson s dilemma12
Abelson’s dilemma
  • But this outcome is not often observed in reality
    • Minority opinions persist
    • Attitudes show variation
    • Groups often polarize
      • Move outside original range of opinions
avoiding abelson s dilemma
Avoiding Abelson’s dilemma
  • Four distinct ways to avoid collapse
  • Constitute four dimensions on which to place social influence models
    • Patterns of Connectivity
    • Behavior vs. Attitudes
    • Variable Environmental Influences
    • Assimilation vs. Contrast
remainder of talk
Remainder of talk
  • Briefly describe the four dimensions
  • Give examples of models
  • Describe how each dimension can help avoid Abelson’s collapse, maintain variability and diversity
1 patterns of connectivity
1. Patterns of connectivity
  • The pathways along which influence flows determine the final outcome for a group
    • How many buy a product
    • Strength and certainty of attitudes
    • Polarization or conformity
patterns of connectivity
Patterns of connectivity
  • Models assume different patterns of influence
    • All-connect
    • Regular networks
    • General networks
    • Dynamic networks (not today)
all connect
All-connect

A

  • Each person potentially influences each other

B

E

D

C

all connect21
All-connect
  • Most small group research in social psychology (Levine & Moreland, 1998; Stasser, 1988)
    • Thinking of group sitting around a table
  • Innovation diffusion models (Granovetter, 1978)
innovation diffusion granovetter 1978
Innovation diffusion(Granovetter, 1978)
  • Individuals have different thresholds for adopting innovation (e.g., new product)
    • Threshold: % of others who must use innovation before the individual will
  • Early adopters (0-1% threshold) start the process off, then those with low thresholds jump on board, and so on
  • All-connect network assumption: each individual knows how many others in whole population have adopted innovation
regular grid networks
Regular (grid) networks

A

  • Each person connected to some number of nearest neighbors only
    • No long-distance links

B

E

D

C

regular grid networks24
Regular (grid) networks
  • Cellular Automata models (Conway, 1990)
  • Dynamic Social Impact Model (Nowak, Szamrej, & Latané, 1990)
dynamic social impact model nowak et al 1990
Dynamic Social Impact Model(Nowak et al., 1990)
  • Individuals have binary (pro/con) attitudes, initially random
  • Fixed locations in rectangular grid
  • Influenced by close others (influence declines as square of distance)
  • Change attitude if total influence to change > total influence to stay
dynamic social impact model
Dynamic Social Impact Model
  • Predictions
    • Initial majority (e.g., 60%) increases (e.g., to 90%)
      • polarization
    • Minority persists by becoming spatially clustered
      • protected from majority influence by clustering together
general networks
General networks

A

  • Each person can have unique pattern of links
  • Number of links may vary (“degree”)
  • Mix of local, longer-range connections

B

E

D

C

general networks28
General networks
  • Bavelas (1950) & Leavitt (1950)
  • Watts & Strogatz (1998) small-world networks
  • Friedkin (1998) sociological model
    • Preference distribution
    • Influence networks
slide31
All-connect network most subject to Abelson’s collapse
    • Every individual influenced by same overall majority
    • Rather than influenced by unique set of network neighbors
maintaining diversity
Maintaining diversity
  • Isolation
  • Homophily (network linkages correlate with attitude similarity)
homophily
Homophily
  • Friends correlate in attitudes, beliefs
    • Empirically found almost universally
  • Arises from
    • social influence (transmitted along friendship links)
    • social selection (choice of friends based on pre-existing similarity)
      • likely the more important process
2 modeling attitude vs behavior
2. Modeling attitude vs. behavior
  • Attitude (continuous quantity) allows possibility of graded influence
    • Linear influence rule, move x% of the way toward influence source --> Abelson collapse
  • Behavior (often discrete quantity), usually threshold for influence
    • E.g., adopt behavior if majority of neighbors do
    • Nonlinear rule, collapse not inevitable
slide38

Continuous attitudes

2.6

0.6

1.3

1.2

0.8

2.0

1.1

1.6

2.3

2.8

1.8

1.9

slide39

Continuous attitudes

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

slide40

Discrete behaviors

0.6

2.8

1.3

1.2

1.1

1.6

0.8

2.2

2.8

2.3

1.9

1.8

maintaining diversity42
Maintaining diversity
  • Easier for models of discrete behaviors than for models of continuous attitudes
attitudes and behavior
Attitudes and behavior?
  • Possible to model both attitudes and behaviors
    • Attitudes are continuous, function as summary of input evaluative information
    • Behaviors are discrete, are observable to others
      • Influence only from behaviors, not attitudes
attitudes and behavior44
Attitudes and Behavior?
  • No models in this category yet
  • But social psych research on how attitudes guide behavior should help construct them
  • Would allow for modeling pluralistic ignorance
3 variable environmental influences
3. Variable environmental influences
  • Some models consider ONLY social influence
    • Dynamic Social Impact (Nowak et al.)
  • Information other than social influence
    • Theory of Reasoned Action
      • Attitude and subjective norm
    • Swarm intelligence (Kennedy & Eberhart)
      • Try things yourself, hear about what neighbors have tried
information cascade model bikhchandani et al 1992
Information cascade model(Bikhchandani et al., 1992)
  • Biased coin, known to fall one way 2/3 of the time
  • Is it biased toward heads or tails?
  • Each person in turn flips coin privately (evidence), announces guess about coin
  • People can use earlier guesses as well as their own private evidence
information cascade model
Information cascade model
  • Person 1: sees H, guesses bias is H
  • Person 2: sees T
    • Knows H, T have been seen, makes 50-50 guess
  • More interesting: person 2 also sees H
    • Knows H, H have been seen, guesses coin is H
    • Now even if person 3 sees T, should guess H!
    • Same (even stronger) for all later people
4 assimilation vs contrast
4. Assimilation vs. contrast
  • Most models assume purely assimilative influence: move toward others’ positions
  • This is likely when influence is purely informational
    • Learn about others’ successful problem solutions
4 assimilation vs contrast51
4. Assimilation vs. contrast
  • But several processes can generate movement away from others’ positions
    • Reactance processes
      • Resist threats to behavioral freedom
    • Social Identity Theory, Optimal Distinctiveness Theory
      • Motive to seek distinctiveness of ingroup from outgroup
    • Avoiding competition
      • Seek rewards less exploited by others
seceder model dittrich et al 2000
Seceder model(Dittrich et al., 2000)
  • Each person in group has random number between 0 - 100 (attitude, behavior)
  • Each person in turn:
    • Picks 3 others at random, sees their numbers (e.g., 16, 27, 88)
    • Identifies the number that is farthest from the mean of the 3 (e.g., 88)
    • Changes his own number to that (plus random error)
seceder model
Seceder model
  • Model is from physics
  • Parallel to Optimal Distinctiveness Theory
    • Seek distinctiveness (move away from boring average)
    • But not all alone! (only go where another is already located)
    • Joining that person makes region less distinctive
space of social influence models
Space of social influence models
  • Patterns of Connectivity
    • (All-connect, Grid, Heterogeneous, Dynamic)
  • Behavior vs. Attitudes
    • (Continuous, Discrete, Both)
  • Variable Environmental Influences
    • (Only social influence, Other influences)
  • Assimilation vs. Contrast
    • (Pure assimilation, Contrast possible)

4x3x2x2=48 categories of models in principle

avoiding abelson collapse
Avoiding Abelson collapse
  • Patterns of Connectivity
    • (All-connect, Grid, Heterogeneous, Dynamic)
  • Behavior vs. Attitudes
    • (Continuous, Discrete, Both)
  • Variable Environmental Influences
    • (Only social influence, Other influences)
  • Assimilation vs. Contrast
    • (Pure assimilation, Contrast possible)
integration
Integration
  • Social psychology offers:
    • Well-supported models of micro-processes of social influence
    • Evidence at level of individual behavior
  • Other fields offer:
    • Formal models of macro-level processes
    • Evidence at level of influence outcomes over multiple actors and many time periods
integration60
Integration
  • These naturally complement each other
    • Social psychological models need contextual component (I.e., social networks) to predict large-scale outcomes
    • Models from other fields need empirically and theoretically grounded assumptions about micro-level patterns of influence