Phil 9.13.17

7:00 – 5:30 ASRC MKT

  • Continuing on the paper. Got Scott & Amundsen in the intro! Also used Plato’s cave.
  • Echoes of a Conspiracy: Birthers, Truthers, and the Cultivation of Extremism
    • A significant number of Americans express sympathies for conspiracy theories about Barack Obama’s birth and George Bush’s role in the 9/11 attacks. This study sought to test the role of ideological media in perpetuating these beliefs. Specifically, experiments were conducted to determine if ideologically homogeneous media echo-chambers could cultivate belief in conspiracy theories and whether debunking information would reverse this belief. Results found that media echo-chambers increased belief in conspiracy theories though debunking information reversed or minimized this effect. Results confirm the role of ideological media in spreading extremist attitudes but also demonstrate the value of debunking efforts.
  • Upcoming paper on the wisdom and culture of flocks.
  • Aligning Popularity and Quality in Online Cultural Markets Andres Abeliuk
    • Social influence is ubiquitous in cultural markets and plays an important role in recommendations for books, songs, and news articles to name only a few. Yet social influence is often presented in a bad light, often because it supposedly increases market unpredictability. Here we study a model of trial-offer markets, in which participants try products and later decide whether to purchase. We consider a simple policy which recovers product quality and ranks the products by quality when presenting them to market participants. We show that, in this setting, market efficiency always benefits from social influence. Moreover, we prove that the market converges almost surely to a monopoly for the product of highest quality, making the market both predictable and asymptotically optimal. Computational experiments confirm that the quality ranking policy quickly identifies “blockbusters”, outperforms other policies, and is highly predictable.
    • This is the paper that I’ve been looking for that shows overall quality of ranking is improved if songs are presented in a random order, and that cascades lead to random quality results. However, reading this paper got me to the following: “Unfortunately, popularity, which is easily distorted by noise in the process, is not a good proxy for quality: It leads to market unpredictability and even self-fulfilling prophecies, in which a perceived but initially false popularity becomes real over time (Salganik and Watts 2008).” Which gets us to:
  • Leading the Herd Astray: An Experimental Study of Self-Fulfilling Prophecies in an Artificial Cultural Market
    • Individuals influence each others’ decisions about cultural products such as songs, books, and movies; but to what extent can the perception of success become a “self-fulfilling prophecy”? We have explored this question experimentally by artificially inverting the true popularity of songs in an online “music market,” in which 12,207 participants listened to and downloaded songs by unknown bands. We found that most songs experienced self-fulfilling prophecies, in which perceived—but initially false—popularity became real over time. We also found, however, that the inversion was not self-fulfilling for the market as a whole, in part because the very best songs recovered their popularity in the long run. Moreover, the distortion of market information reduced the correlation between appeal and popularity, and led to fewer overall downloads. These results, although partial and speculative, suggest a new approach to the study of cultural markets, and indicate the potential of web-based experiments to explore the social psychological origin of other macro-sociological phenomena.
  • Good progress on the introduction and lit review
  • Discussion with Aaron about the next phase, which is the development of the Normative Maps. We walked through the idea of using the Research Browser combined with a chat interface to set up an online small-ish group that works through a problem along the lines of what M&D describe in C&C. With his game background, he thinks he can design something compelling. First goal will be to put together a paper prototype to evaluate. A paper that describes such a scenario is The effects of a normative intervention on group decision-making performance:
    • A space ship having crashed on the moon, a team of astronauts has to cover a distance of some 300 kilometres in order to reach the spot where they have a rendezvous with another team. Before embarking on this perilous undertaking, the members of the team have to decide which of the fifteen objects necessary for survival – oxygen reserves, concentrated food, signalling equipment, heating requisites, etc. – they will take with them. Those participating in the study were asked to draw up a list of priorities for these objects, first separately as individuals, and then in groups, by arriving at a consensus.

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