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

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  • Egebark, Johan

    ()
    (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University)

  • Ekström, Mathias

    ()
    (Dept. of Economics, 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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Stockholm University, Department of Economics in its series Research Papers in Economics with number 2011:27.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 22 Oct 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2011_0027

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

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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
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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