Swayed by Friends or by the Crowd?

Paper by Zeinab Abbassi, Christina Aperjis, Bernardo A. Huberman

We have conducted three empirical studies of the effects of friend recommendations and general ratings on how online users make choices. These two components of social influence were investigated through user studies on Mechanical Turk. We find that for a user deciding between two choices an additional rating star has a much larger effect than an additional friend’s recommendation on the probability of selecting an item. Equally important, negative opinions from friends are more influential than positive opinions, and people exhibit more random behavior in their choices when the decision involves less cost and risk. Our results can be generalized across different demographics, implying that individuals trade off recommendations from friends and ratings in a similar fashion.

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