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Like What You Like or Like What Others Like? Conformity and Peer Effects on Facebook

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Author Info

  • Egebark, Johan

    ()
    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

  • Ekström, Mathias

    ()
    (Stockholm University)

Abstract

Users of the social networking service Facebook have the possibility to post status updates for their friends to read. In turn, friends may react to these short messages by writing comments or by pressing a Like button to show their appreciation. Making use of five Swedish accounts, we set up a natural field experiment to study whether users are more prone to Like an update if someone else has done so before. We distinguish between three different treatment conditions: (i) one unknown user Likes the update, (ii) three unknown users Like the update and (iii) one peer Likes the update. Whereas the first condition had no effect, both the second and the third increased the probability to express a positive opinion by a factor of two or more, suggesting that both number of predecessors and social proximity matters. We identify three reasonable explanations for the observed herding behavior and isolate conformity as the primary mechanism in our experiment.

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File URL: http://www.ifn.se/wfiles/wp/wp886.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Research Institute of Industrial Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 886.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 17 Oct 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0886

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Postal: Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46 8 665 4500
Fax: +46 8 665 4599
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Web page: http://www.ifn.se/
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Related research

Keywords: Herding Behavior; Conformity; Peer Effects; Field Experiment;

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References

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  1. Luca Corazzini & Ben Greiner, 2005. "Herding, Social Preferences and (Non-) Conformity," Working Paper Series in Economics 21, University of Cologne, Department of Economics, revised 24 Jan 2007.
  2. Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 2010. "A theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom and cultural change as informational Cascades," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1193, David K. Levine.
  3. Alevy, Jonathan E. & Haigh, Michael S. & List, John A., 2003. "Information Cascades: Evidence From A Field Experiment With Financial Market Professionals," Working Papers 28608, University of Maryland, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
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  17. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2002. "The Role of Information and Social Interactions in Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," NBER Working Papers 8885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Contagious Liking
    by jeff in Cheap Talk on 2011-11-03 16:33:31
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
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Cited by:
  1. Alexia Delfino & Luigi Marengo & Matteo Ploner, 2013. "I Did it Your Way. An Experimental Investigation of Peer Effects in Investment Choices," CEEL Working Papers 1305, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
  2. Giovanna Devetag & Francesca Ceccacci & Paola De Salvo, 2013. "Do Reputation Concerns Make Behavioral Biases Disappear? The Conjunction Fallacy on Facebook and Mechanical Turk," CEEL Working Papers 1303, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.

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