Network Structure Impacts the Synchronization of Collective Beliefs


Vlasceanu, M., Morais, M. J., & Coman, A. (2021). Network Structure Impacts the Synchronization of Collective Beliefs. Journal of Cognition and Culture.
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People’s beliefs are influenced by interactions within their communities. The propagation of this influence through conversational social networks should impact the degree to which community members synchronize their beliefs. To investigate, we recruited a sample of 140 participants and constructed fourteen 10-member communities. Participants first rated the accuracy of a set of statements (pre-test) and were then provided with relevant evidence about them. Then, participants discussed the statements in a series of conversational interactions, following pre-determined network structures (clustered/non-clustered). Finally, they rated the accuracy of the statements again (post- test). The results show that belief synchronization, measuring the increase in belief similarity among individuals within a community from pre-test to post-test, is influenced by the community’s conversational network structure. This synchronization is circumscribed by a degree of separation effect and is equivalent in the clustered and non- clustered networks. We also find that conversational content predicts belief change from pre-test to post-test.

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Last updated on 08/23/2021