To Belong or to Be Different? Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment in China
AbstractWe examined whether people conform to or diverge from the most popular choice among their friends by conducting a large-scale field experiment on a leading social-networking site in China. Our setting allowed us to minimize confounding effects such as pre-existing taste similarities between a subject and her friends, the need to create a social identity, and the possibility of learning by observing friends’ choices. Surprisingly, we found that subjects were more likely to diverge from the popular choice among their friends as the popularity of that choice increased. The effect was more pronounced when they were reminded that their choices were visible to their friends. These results suggest that even members of a collectivist culture have a dominating need to be different.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by NET Institute in its series Working Papers with number 12-15.
Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2012
Date of revision: Oct 2012
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Web page: http://www.NETinst.org/
uniqueness-seeking; conformity; collectivist culture; field experiment; social network;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
- J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2012-10-13 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2012-10-13 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-EXP-2012-10-13 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-SOC-2012-10-13 (Social Norms & Social Capital)
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