The Impact of Collective Opinion on Online Judgment


Social media are part of our everyday lives. These technologies allow people to share their opinions with others. Here I examine whether the opinions posted online actually change people’s perception of the world or they simply serve as anchors when people post their own opinions. Participants rated the interestingness of given stories. In one condition, the stories were presented with invented average ratings of others that matched the rating task. In another condition, the assumed opinions of others mismatched the rating task. Only in the task match condition, people used the opinions of others when rating the stories. The results suggest that the other’s opinions are used as anchors when making judgments and do not influence people’s perception as much as one may expect. The current work provides insights into cognitive mechanisms underlying collective behavior in online environments as well as a lesson for users and designers of social media websites.

Back to Table of Contents