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


  • Egebark, Johan

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

  • Ekström, Mathias

    () (Stockholm University)


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Egebark, Johan & Ekström, Mathias, 2011. "Like What You Like or Like What Others Like? Conformity and Peer Effects on Facebook," Working Paper Series 886, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0886

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    References listed on IDEAS

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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. Delfino, Alexia & Marengo, Luigi & Ploner, Matteo, 2016. "I did it your way. An experimental investigation of peer effects in investment choices," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 113-123.
    3. Matthew Ellman, 2017. "Online Social Networks: Approval by Design," Working Papers 17-18, NET Institute.

    More about this item


    Herding Behavior; Conformity; Peer Effects; Field Experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness


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